94 NI rural towns and villages to benefit from ‘Full Fibre’ broadband technology

Openreach, Northern Ireland’s (NI) largest digital infrastructure provider, today announced 94 new rural towns and villages where it will be building new future-proof ‘Full Fibre’ broadband over the next two years.

The 94 locations span the length and breadth of NI - from Kilrea in Co. Londonderry and Lisbellaw in Co. Fermanagh to Warrenpoint in Co. Down and Fintona in Co. Tyrone – and Openreach will bring more reliable, faster and futureproof broadband to these areas by March 2022.

‘Full Fibre’ broadband gives homes and businesses access to broadband at speeds of up to 1 Gbps, meaning faster connections and a more reliable service. Overall, 124 locations across NI have now been included in Openreach’s build programme and the company is building to 750 premises every day. Openreach recently announced it is recruiting more than 100 apprentice engineers over the coming months to support the build programme as it rolls out across the region.

Last month, Openreach released a report** which looked at the benefits of investing in ‘Full Fibre’ broadband in NI. It noted that ‘levelling up’ connectivity across the region has the potential to support job creation in rural rather than just urban areas and could support both economic and social regional rebalancing.

Mairead Meyer, Director of Openreach Northern Ireland, said:

“As one of the biggest investors in infrastructure in Northern Ireland, Openreach is committed to bringing ultra-reliable and ultrafast broadband to as many people as we can, as quickly as possible. With that in mind, we’re delighted to announce a further 94 towns and villages today that will be part of our ‘Full Fibre’ build programme and particularly pleased that so many of these areas are in rural communities.

This is important to us as we look to play a role in the economic recovery and long-term growth of NI. Ensuring that we’re balanced in our build programme is central to this and our engineers are building to over 750 homes every day in both rural and urban areas. In addition, we also have schemes in place, such as our ‘Community Fibre Partnerships, which is bringing broadband to areas that are harder to reach and making sure no one gets left behind.

“To support the build programme, we’ve also announced that we’re recruiting over 100 apprentice engineers across the region between now and March 2021. Our new recruits will be joining the team at a really exciting time and if anyone is interested in applying, they can find out more on our website.

“We’re hopeful that with continued investment in the ‘Full Fibre’ broadband network, there will be benefits for everyone right across NI, no matter where they live, work or study and we’re proud to be building a strong and resilient network that will meet the needs of everyone, now and in the future.”

Retail NI Chief Executive, Glyn Roberts, added:

“We warmly welcome this announcement by Openreach. As we look to economic recovery and to make plans for future economic development and growth in Northern Ireland, it is vitally important that our rural towns and villages are not left behind. Investing in key infrastructure projects such as the build and roll out of Full Fibre broadband across the region is integral to this and will provide support for existing businesses in rural communities as well as for the next generation of SMEs.

“The continued investment and roll out of Full Fibre broadband will bring greater opportunities for everyone - from wholesalers and independent retailers to suppliers to the retail sector – leading to improved digitalisation and help to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas.”

** https://www.openreach.com/northern-ireland/