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Openreach Adds 17 Rural Locations to N.Ireland FTTP Rollout

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021 (11:51 am) - Score 2,328
telegraph pole fttp openreach engineers rural

Openreach (BT) has today named a further 17 new “rural” towns and villages across Northern Ireland that, over the next 18 months, will benefit from a local investment of £130m (up from the prior commitment of £100m) to help expand the reach of their 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network.

So far Openreach have been building their full fibre across Northern Ireland at a rate of over 3,500 premises passed per week and in April 2021 they revealed a plan to add another 100,000 premises to their coverage over the next year (here). All of this forms part of their wider £15bn investment to reach 25 million homes and businesses by December 2026 (80% of the UK), which includes 6.2 million premises in rural or semi-rural areas (here).

NOTE: Openreach’s FTTP currently covers over 65% of premises in N.Ireland (well over 530K) and they also employ more than 1,000 people across the region.

By comparison, today’s announcement for N.Ireland represents a further £30m boost to their existing plans between 2021 and 2022. In addition, the operator has today appointed Garret Kavanagh as Director of Openreach Northern Ireland. Garret, who’s most recent role was Senior Manager of Infrastructure Delivery, has more than 10 years’ experience in Openreach NI and replaces Mairead Meyer, who has stepped down after 5 years in the role.

Otherwise, the new locations announced today span the length and breadth of the region, from Belleek in Co. Fermanagh to Stewartstown in Co. Tyrone to Cushendun in Co. Antrim and Killinchy in Co. Down.

The 17 New Rural Towns and Villages
BELCOO
BELLEEK
COAGH
CUSHENDUN
DUNLOY
DERRYLIN
GLENARM
ISLANDMAGEE
KESH
KILLINCHY
KIRCUBBIN
LOUGHGALL
ROSLEA
SEAFORDE
SPRINGFIELD
STEWARTSTOWN
TEMPO

At present Openreach’s wider UK FTTP network covers a total of over 5.2 million premises via a build rate of c.43,000 premises per week (not to mention take-up of c.17,000 per week), which should continue to ramp-up until it hits a peak of c.75,000 premises per week (equating to about 4 million UK premises deployed a year).

Garret said:

“We’re undergoing a once in a generation upgrade of our broadband network from copper to Full Fibre. We are delighted that we will be building Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband to 17 more rural towns and villages over the next 18 months and investing a total of £130 million in Northern Ireland between 2021 and 2022.

700,000 homes and businesses will be able to access Ultrafast Full Fibre technology by March 2022, that’s 75% of properties across Northern Ireland. We’re extremely proud to be building a strong and resilient network that will meet the needs of everyone, now and for decades to come. It’s a fantastic time to step into the role of Director of Openreach Northern Ireland.”

The expansion of Openreach’s commercial build also means there will be less of a gap for the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme to fill, although it may also put additional pressure on some alternative network providers that were targeting some of the same areas.

Similarly, it will be interesting to see how much of their new commercial expansion may end up building across areas that had previously been targeted as part of the state aid supported Project Stratum contract with rival operator Fibrus, which was recently given a rollout boost of its own (here).

As usual, the deployment of FTTP broadband is not an automatic upgrade for consumers, which still need to order the service from a choice of ISPs.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Kane says:

    In my experience in Belfast openreach won’t install fttp in apartments. I own my ground floor apartment. It is in a block of 4. There is a bt manhole literally 8 feet from my front door. They would not run the cable from their junction box to my property and said they needed permission from the property management company. I managed to obtain this. They then delayed my installation date 3 times each delay was over 4 weeks. At this point I called the bt fttp team and the rep I spoke to said that the notes from the engineer at open reach said that he did not believe that my apartment or others are suitable for fttp. I cancelled my contract at that point. My property and the other 7 apartments in the development are all still listed on bt’s availability checker as being eligible for full fibre.

    1. Openreach Northern Ireland says:

      Please contact openreachni.help@openreach.co.uk for assistance with this issue.

  2. McNugget365 says:

    The Dunloy announcement is an interesting one for me.

    In February of this year we were invited to sign up to a demand led community fibre project. There are other projects like this in NI at the moment, for example in the village of Feeny.

    Interestingly, the sign up page for the Feeny project (and others) always displayed how far towards the pledge target they were, and that once they reached the target the project would move to voucher validation. The Dunloy project has never had a target pledge count displayed.

    I emailed openreach earlier in the year and was advised they were 6% towards the pledge target which from memory meant they needed about £270k for the project.

    There is currently about £200k committed to the project, and openreach have sent a letter to say they will visit the village today and again next Thursday to talk to the residents about the benefits of the scheme (they were also here two weeks ago and were able to persuade an extra 40 houses to sign up and an extra few businesses to sign up too.

    In May of this year DCMS emailed out the vouchers to validate. I validated mine at the end of May, which means openreach effectively have less than 9 months to build the network if they want to claim my voucher.

    With todays announcement I wonder will the scheme now be scrapped as there is a commercial rollout planned.

    Secondly, when the scheme was first announced I got in touch with our local MLA to try to get him to convince people to pledge to the scheme, and was advised of that Fibrus were talking about coming to the village in 2022 (so far nothing has been announced yet). I wonder has this pushed openreach to roll out to the village too, I remember that they only installed FTTC for us in 2016 once the village made moves to set up its own gigabit network (similar to BARN in England). Before that most of us were only getting 1 to 2 Mbps.

    Either way, very happy to be getting FTTP soon 🙂

    1. Superfast Dream says:

      …and dare I say it, do wait for Openreach.

      If Fibrus grace your path, and you grab the nettle, your experience may unfortunately not be a happy one. This may not sound fair on Fibrus but there are swathes of unhappy customers that are getting nowhere in having ongoing issues addressed/issues reoccurring, unexplained outages, lack of transparency, poor customer service etc.

      Government contract awarded parties really should be doing much better with the public purse.

      Hold on for Openreach I say!

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