Openreach announces reaching 50% FTTP premises passed in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is leading the charge to widespread availability of full fibre and is also the UK region with the most Gigabit capability (figures as of 7th September 2020).
Today sees Openreach announce that they have reached a big milestone of 50% of premises in Northern Ireland can now order a fibre to the premises service (420,000 properties).
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.
We’re seeing day in and day out, how important broadband has become to the lives of so many people in Northern Ireland. Zoom currently has over 770,000 active users per day** and 1 in 5 households in the UK bought groceries online in the past month*** and this is likely to continue as a trend.
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. We’re encouraging everyone to check if Full Fibre broadband is available in their area and to register their interest in updates about the build programme by visiting openreach.co.uk/niMairead Meyer, Director of Openreach in Northern Ireland
The 50% milestone is not the end of the journey current plans should see Openreach carry on to the 60% mark, i.e. 525,000 premises by the end of March 2021.
Our tracking of what is happening in Northern Ireland has our internal figure at 45.74% (384,356 premises), back on Saturday 19th September this was 45.72% and on 7th September down at 44.96% (377,932 premises). This means at a declared build pace of 3,500 premises each week in NI we are exactly 10 weeks behind, so the challenge now is to try and reduce that gap to a more respectable 4 or 5 weeks. The premises figure as we write this news item is already out of date, as there are some new build properties to add to the total.
Northern Ireland also has a good sized chunk of Virgin Media RFOG and while the overlap between the two FTTP networks is 5.6% of premises the sum total for FTTP coverage in Northern Ireland is 51.2%. We don't have any FTTP from Fibrus in our system as yet, but with their plans and the Project Stratum contract the overall FTTP figure looks set to keep climbing towards a figure very close to 100% by 2025.
We know some people do not like the premises passed metric, but it is the first step on the path to lots of people buying an FTTP product and our tracking of what people are buying and using suggests that in Northern Ireland 5% of broadband connections are using full fibre in Q2 2020. This looks incredibly low for the size of the footprint but the vast majority of the roll-out is overlapping with superfast services where speeds of 30 Mbps and faster is available and lots of people have a Virgin Media cable option. The situation in 2020 is likely to see that change as people look for more speed so that a whole household can be doing things online at the same time, and therefore the next couple of quarters will be interesting in terms of FTTP take-up.