Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today updated the Northern Ireland Assembly on the progress of Project Stratum
The Minister said:
“As a result of our continued public investment in broadband infrastructure the connectivity gap in Northern Ireland is rapidly closing at superfast levels. Once completed, all premises under Project Stratum will be able to benefit from access to gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband. It’s also important to remember that the vast majority of these homes and businesses are in rural areas of Northern Ireland and Project Stratum will be transforming the connectivity fortunes of citizens benefiting from this much-needed public intervention.
“A third of premises, mainly in rural areas, cannot access superfast speeds of 30 Mbps or above, and so delivery of gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure to these premises is truly life changing. Funded under the DUP/Conservative Confidence and Supply deal the £165 million contract for delivery of Project Stratum was awarded to Fibrus Networks Ltd in November 2020. As a result of this investment, and additional funding of £32m, along with the contractor’s investment of more than £48m, some 85,000 properties will be able to connect to high-speed broadband.
“Connectivity is repeatedly mentioned to me by investors and businesses in Northern Ireland as being key for economic growth. Through investment in Project Stratum we are helping to secure the future progress and economic development for the whole of Northern Ireland."
The Minister added:
“By the end of 2021 more than 10,000 fibre poles had been planted and 2,000 kilometres of fibre cable installed. Despite challenges to working conditions during the pandemic Fibrus have now delivered a new infrastructure to more than 22,000 premises. Fibrus Networks is on track to deploy new broadband infrastructure to a total of more than 50,000 premises by the end of this calendar year.
“Such premises include businesses, thus ensuring they are more efficient, households, helping families to enjoy their leisure time, schoolchildren to do their homework and those working from home to stay connected.”
The Minister continued:
“The network being deployed by Fibrus is an open access network, meaning it will attract competition from a number of retail service providers which, over time, will provide consumers with a broad range of competitively priced broadband services. The Project Stratum wholesale pricing model formed part of the contractor’s bid and there is a process to benchmark these prices against comparable services in the rest of the UK, under the State Aid rules that govern the project.’’
Notes to editors:
- Read the Minister’s full statement at Project Stratum - Ministerial Statement
- Project Stratum represents a £165million broadband improvement project managed by the Department for the Economy (DfE), with public funding of £150million originally allocated as a result of the Confidence & Supply Agreement and a £15million contribution by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
- Additional funding for the project was announced by the then UK Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, following a commitment by Building Digital UK (BDUK), a division within DCMS, to allocate funding to the project from the UK Government’s Project Gigabit fund. £22million of the capital funding necessary to extend broadband coverage to reach the additional premises has been allocated by DCMS with both DfE and DAERA each providing additional capital funding of £4.85million.This brings total additional funding for Project Stratum to c.£32million,
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