Broadband News

Openreach to build another 100,000 full fibre premises in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland looks likely to be the leading UK nation for full fibre coverage for some time since with the news today that Openreach is to build another 100,000 premises worth of FTTP. There is also Fibrus who has the contract to build FTTP to rural properties without access to superfast speeds it is going to be very difficult for any other nation to catch up and Virgin Media who continue to build RFOG FTTP in parts of Northern Ireland.

As of 12th April the FTTP coverage was 64.51% of premises, when we remove the Fibrus FTTP and Virgin Media RFOG FTTP footprints this drops to 59.75%. The size of the Openreach FTTP network in Northern Ireland on the 12th of April 509,023 properties passed in our database, which is 20,000 shy of the figure Openreach say they have built to i.e. 530,000. This means once we have found the missing 20,000 properties and Openreach complete their build the footprint will be around 73 to 75% of premises. As we type this on the evening of the 12th our systems our running some updates and we will update the figures once our analysis finishes running on the 13th April.

An investment figure of £100 million has been announced which covers the FTTP, extension taking on a further 100 apprentices to help with the roll-out and we presume ensure that as more people order FTTP the final connections will be nice and swift. Some of the money will go towards maintenance of the existing copper network too.

I welcome the commitment by Openreach to enhance and extend digital connectivity in Northern Ireland over the next 12 months. The £100m investment plan will mean that well over two-thirds of homes and businesses here will have access to its ultrafast full fibre broadband network.

This pandemic has shown us how important online services are to how we live, work, and engage together. Greater access to fast, reliable connections will make a real difference to people’s lives and will also play a key part in the recovery and renewal of our economy.

Importantly, this investment will also focus on the skilled workforce of the future with the creation of 100 new apprenticeship roles who will be supported to achieve engineering qualifications.

Arlene Foster, First Minister of Northern Ireland

As with almost all FTTP announcements there is an emphasis on ultrafast speeds, but it is worth pointing out where Openreach rolls out FTTP you don't have to buy an ultrafast package if you don't want a lot of money. In short if the 40 Mbps download (10 Mbps upload) service is fast enough you can sign up for that package at around £22 to £30/m and still benefit from the reliability of FTTP and then if you feel the need for speed at a future date upgrading to 100 Mbps and faster packages should be simple.

Update 9:15am Tuesday 13th April 2021

Our overnight processing has completed and our latest figures for Northern Ireland are now available. These will get pushed to our main stats site on Saturday along with any other changes later in the week.

  • Northern Ireland full fibre all operators 64.62% of premises. 
  • 10.37% of premises have two or more full fibre operators available i.e. two or more from Openreach, Virgin Media RFOG or Fibrus
  • Openreach FTTP footprint is 59.94% of premises
  • Openreach network FTTP footprint premise count has increased to 510,971
  • Belfast has the highest coverage of Openreach FTTP at 78.75% of premises
  • Fermanagh and Omagh is the lowest coverage of Openreach FTTP at 33.47% of premises

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