Project Stratum aims to improve broadband connectivity by extending Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband infrastructure to approximately 79,000 premises across Northern Ireland that cannot yet access NGA broadband services.
£150m has been allocated to the project as a result of the Confidence and Supply Agreement, along with additional funding of £15m secured through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). This brings the total amount of available funding for Project Stratum to £165m to help deliver substantial enhancements to Internet connectivity across Northern Ireland.
At the end of July 2020 around 48% of premises in Northern Ireland could already access a gigabit-capable “full fibre” network (here), which is considerably above any other part of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile commercial deployments alone (Fibrus, Openreach, Virgin Media etc.) are predicted to extend this to approximatley 88%. On the flip side, 30Mbps+ coverage stands at almost 90% and that’s lower than any other part of the UK.
Following a review by independent specialist telecommunications consultants, an additional 8,500 premises were brought into the scope of the project in December 2021, with additional public funding of £32m being secured. Of the £32m, contributions of £22m came from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and £4.85m each from DfE and DAERA. Fibrus has also increased its investment in network build by an additional £48m.
Project Stratum will help ensure that every home in the region will have access to full fibre broadband by 2025.
Fibrus Networks Ltd have been appointed to deliver the project.
A dedicated Stratum portal has been developed by Fibrus to provide information to citizens on key aspects of implementation, including planned phasing and full deployment of NGA broadband infrastructure across the target intervention area. The information will be updated and expanded on a regular basis. A postcode checker will be provided to track deployment and phasing plans for their specific areas.
For further details, please go to www.hyperfastni.com
DfE have launched a Discrete Superfast Review to identify eligible premises to ensure that any cost savings that may arise through Project Stratum, such as removing derelict premises or from other sources, can be used to connect eligible premises that will benefit from an NGA broadband connection.