Just three months after connecting 40% of premises in Northern Ireland to its gigabit-capable full-fibre network, Openreach has announced that coverage in the country has now passed 50%.
Openreach’s FTTP broadband network now covers 420,000 premises in Northern Ireland, up from 360,000 in June and 260,000 in January.
And the build isn’t stopping there. Openreach’s team of 750 engineers are installing new connections in Northern Ireland at a rate of over 3,500 premises per week, or 22 per hour. Openreach aims to reach 525,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland (60% coverage) by March 2021 and more in the future.
Households currently connected to the network can subscribe to ultrafast tariffs from BT (top speeds of 900Mbps) and Sky (top speeds of 285Mbps), with more broadband providers expected to launch packages on the network eventually.
Openreach’s efforts mean that full-fibre coverage in Northern Ireland far exceeds that of other countries in the UK. Just 13% of premises in England, 13% in Scotland and 15% in Wales can access a full-fibre network.
Mairead Meyer, Director of Openreach in NI, said: “Despite our size, Northern Ireland always shines on the global stage and goes shoulder to shoulder with the best of them – this is certainly true for the progress that has been made to keep NI at the forefront of digital technology. We’re very proud that our Full Fibre build programme has helped NI to rank so highly and has made the region a leader within the UK. This is an incredible achievement.
“The Full Fibre network is about setting Northern Ireland up for success today and in the future. It will be transformational, providing a consistent and fast service to connect families, businesses and public services in the region and will be a platform for economic growth for the region. Those who adopt it first will be the first to see the benefits of it.”
The Northern Irish business community welcomed the full-fibre rollout.
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said: “We warmly welcome the news that Openreach has reached this significant milestone in its fibre build programme.
“Full Fibre broadband presents an opportunity for local businesses and consumers alike to increase productivity and embrace further digitalisation within their operations and lives. It also places Northern Ireland in a great position to attract and entice investment, demonstrating that Northern Ireland is leading the way in the UK and can compete on the global stage.”
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