Leading telecoms provider, Fibrus has been awarded a major multi-million pound contract to deliver critical digital infrastructure on behalf of the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium (FFNI).
Valued at over £23million, successful completion of the contract will see over 900 public-sector buildings connected to a hyperfast broadband service across Northern Ireland.
The FFNI Consortium, which is made up of ten councils outside Belfast and the Business Services Organisation (BSO), is led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The project aims to expand the high-speed fibre broadband footprint in Northern Ireland having secured funding from the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through the Local Full Fibre Network and Rural Gigabit Connectivity programmes.
Following the award of the contract, full fibre ‘gigabit capable’ broadband is now being installed in public sector buildings, such as Council buildings, community centres, fire stations, GP surgeries and health clinics across Northern Ireland.
The aim of the project is to improve digital transformation across partners and use these public sector hubs to stimulate the acceleration and wider roll-out of faster, more reliable broadband to nearby residential and commercial properties through separate commercial investment plans.
Improved connectivity became vitally important during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which made online, remote and digital access a necessity.
UK Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “This broadband boost for Belfast shows our plan to build back better is delivering for people and businesses, and I am thrilled to announce we will allocate £24 million to replicate its success in every region in Northern Ireland.
“The upgrades will push down the throttle on internet speeds at thousands of homes, businesses and public buildings, and thanks to our £1 billion deal with mobile operators, people will have access to fast and reliable connectivity on the move too.”
Fibrus Chief Executive, Dominic Kearns explained the significance of the contract. He said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this significant contract by FFNI. The objectives of this programme directly align with ours – extending full fibre infrastructure into as many areas of NI as possible.
“Delivering this critical infrastructure to all these council and public-sector buildings allows us to extend the network further into the surrounding homes and businesses that are in much need of our services.
“At Fibrus we are committed to playing our part in delivering the policy objective of achieving ubiquitous full fibre coverage as set out by the Government and this project will help bring that one step closer.”
Speaking at the official launch of the contract Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Cllr Cathy Mason, added: “This project really demonstrates the value of collaboration across public sector organisations. Full Fibre will supercharge our digital capacity and help deliver the best possible services to businesses and residents across district.
“The investment from DCMS will also unlock considerable economic value across the North of Ireland whilst making it easier for suppliers to provide full fibre to nearby businesses and residential properties, so the positive impact will be even more far reaching once complete.”
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes said: “Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is delighted to be a member of the FFNI Consortium. Through this collaboration we have been able to deliver full fibre access to over 50 Council owned locations within the borough.
“It is hoped that the infrastructure provided by this project will accelerate the delivery of reliable broadband to all areas of the Causeway Coast and Glens. Council is committed to providing digital connectivity to all businesses and residents.”
Work to complete the new full fibre network for public sector sites is expected to be completed with minimal disruption by December 2021.