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Openreach UK Extend FTTP Broadband to 97 Percent of N.Ireland

Wednesday, Mar 27th, 2024 (1:39 pm) - Score 1,760

Network operator Openreach (BT) has today announced that their 1.8Gbps speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network in Northern Ireland is being extended to cover 97% of premises (currently they’re at 87%). As a result, a further £100m investment is being made to reach over 100,000 extra premises.

The deployment forms part of the operator’s wider £15bn investment to cover 25 million UK premises (80%+ of the UK) with their full fibre network by December 2026, including 6.2 million in rural and semi-rural areas (here). The operator has already completed coverage for over 13 million UK premises, and there’s also an aspiration to potentially reach up to 30 million by 2030.

NOTE: Openreach is currently building at a rate of 73,000 UK premises passed per week.

According to Openreach, today’s development, when combined with the ongoing FTTP deployments from rival networks (e.g. Netomnia, Fibrus and Virgin Media / nexfibre), will eventually extend full fibre coverage to around 99% of premises across Northern Ireland (nearly universal coverage).


Crucially, the new funding represents a significant investment in the operator’s commercial build programme (i.e. no extra public investment will be required to deliver it).

Garret Kavanagh, Director of Openreach, said:

“This year we’ve continued to build our new network and our purpose and strategy at Openreach remain the same. We keep Northern Ireland connected and we’re building the next generation of digital infrastructure, already providing over 87% of properties across Northern Ireland with the ability to upgrade to Ultrafast Full Fibre.

This further £100 million investment programme will significantly extend the Openreach footprint in Northern Ireland to 97% without the need for any additional government funding, taking overall Full Fibre coverage across the region to circa 99%.”

The announcement notes that Openreach’s “Ultrafast Full Fibre” is already being “enjoyed by more than 50% of people on our network” in Northern Ireland, which suggests a significantly strongly take-up than the already impressive 34% they’re seeing across the UK. But one catch with today’s development is that the operator hasn’t set a clear timescale (completion goal) for the new expansion, although we suspect that most of it will be done over the next 2-3 years.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo XGS says:

    Openreach being willing to spend nearly £1k per premises passed at this stage is really good news for many people.

    It was also inevitable: £15 billion for 25 million premises when a pretty large number may be passed for £2-300 leaves funds to spend a fair bit more on a minority and Openreach are already going to £600 per premises in some rural builds while continuing the lower cost builds across urban, rural and suburban.

    Hopefully availability of labour rather than cash continues to be the constraint for the foreseeable future.

  2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    If they carry on at the current rate they should comfortably exceed their target. If I remember rightly 13 million was the end of 2023 so 73000 X 52 weeks X 3 years is 11.388 million so at that rate they they would be closing in on 26.5 million at the end of 2026 (no guarantee that they will continue at the current rate but it’s pretty impressive all the same).

  3. Avatar photo Doireman says:

    Safe to say no other local NI operator will get anywhere near that coverage level. Fair play to the Openreach NI teams – well ahead of the curve.

    1. Avatar photo GG says:

      Impressive what you can do with buckets of English taxes.

    2. Avatar photo Anon says:

      English taxes? Openreach isnt paid for by taxes. They are a business enterprise that charge ISPs for access and their infrastructure.

    3. Avatar photo Terry O'Toole says:

      GG – Openreach’s FTTP roll out in Northern Ireland has been a 100% commercial venture with no funding from taxpayers from any part of the UK. Check your facts first before resorting to being an online pub bore.

  4. Avatar photo Ronald says:

    So the 165 million that the government gave fibrus to deliver project stratum was not required then? Openreach are fibring the whole country anyway. What a waste of taxpayers money project stratum was!

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      I could have told you that. Openreach should have been given the contract but the local politicians likely wanted a local company to do it. Fibrus started with just a handful of employees and a business plan. I personally think the non-british supporting politicians didnt want Openreach to get the contract as they were seen to be non-irish.

    2. Avatar photo 125us says:

      Fibrus is non-Irish. Ireland is a different country.

    3. Avatar photo Anon says:

      You obviously dont know much about politics in N.Ireland. Just over half the population considers themselves British with most of the rest identifying Irish, same with companies. There are parts of N.Ireland were sterling isnt used near the border, they insist on euros instead even though they are still in the UK. So you can say you learned something today.

  5. Avatar photo Sg says:

    Got to love the anti Northern Irish sentiment in some comments, that is sarcasm by the way.

    What open reach are doing here is good for everyone here, it would be good if people were just happy that there is more investment in NI

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      I am from NI and I love my country and being part of the UK. Just pointing out a few realities.

Comments are closed

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