UK government to establish full fibre networks in 10 Northern Irish councils

A new project funded by the UK government will boost 10 councils in Northern Ireland with full fibre to the premises (FTTP) networks in a bid to connect roughly 880 public sector buildings by the end of March 2021.

The UK government will invest £15 million under its Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme to support infrastructure development in: Antrim and Newtownabbey, Fermanagh, Omagh, Ards and North Down, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Mid and East Antrim, Causeway Coast and Glens, Mid Ulster, Newry, Mourne and Down, and Derry City and Strabane.

The ten councils are a part of the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium (FFNI) which will supervise the deployment of full fibre networks.

The project will initially only be available to connect public sector sites to full fibre networks. Once fully established, the network will open up to ISPs to connect businesses and homes via 1Gbps broadband services.

Commenting on the initiative, Margot James, the UK Minister for Digital, said: “We’re building a Britain that’s fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy. This £15 million boost for gigabit speeds in Northern Ireland will benefit homes and businesses across the country and I congratulate the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium in its successful bid.”

Adding to this, the mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Paul Michael, said: “Investing in connectivity is essential for economic growth and prosperity, and will help to further establish both the Borough of Antrim and Newtownabbey and all of Northern Ireland as a digital destination for investment, jobs and business infrastructure. This is an excellent example of local councils working together for the benefit of the whole region.”

It is hoped that the network will boost full fibre coverage across Northern Ireland, which is only at 16 per cent as of January 2019.