Disruptor broadband provider Fibrus in 'total coverage' pledge

Full-fibre broadband sees fibre optic cables taken straight to people's front doors
Gary McDonald Business Editor

EVERY home in Northern Ireland will have access to full fibre broadband by 2025 under an ambitious commitment by disruptor provider Fibrus, making it the first region in Britain or Ireland to achieve the milestone.

Created just 18 months ago and recently acquired by the infrastructure equity investment arm of M&G Plc, Fibrus has pledged to identify and plug any remaining gaps in fibre coverage.

And it represents an audacious move against the established industry players, who have only committed to connect 61 per cent of homes between them and have largely contained those efforts to Belfast and other large towns.

Northern Ireland customers have already spent more than £2 billion on broadband, but until recently it seemed that only 60 per cent of homes would get full fibre.

But with investment from Fibrus in regional towns, and interventions by the Stormont Executive in areas that are not commercially viable, coverage is expected to grow to 88 per cent.

And Fibrus chair Conal Henry has pledged: “We are today committing to ensure the remaining 12 per cent gap will get filled buy 2025.”

He added: “Relying on a copper company to build our full fibre future is akin to waiting on the canal companies to build the railways.

“Only proper platform competition can stimulate investment, and Fibrus are here to deliver exactly that.”

To date most consumers have received their broadband through networks originally designed to carry phone or TV traffic, whereas full fibre networks is effectively the 'mains' designed exclusively to carry broadband.

Full-fibre broadband (or fibre-to-the-premises) sees fibre optic cables taken straight to front doors. At present, in most cases the fibre cabling is merely laid up to cabinets on street corners, and from there, traditional copper cabling is fed to individual premises.

No major region in western Europe has achieved full fibre penetration, and in doing so Northern Ireland has the opportunity put itself in a strong position to sustain a transformation in its economy.

Fibrus was established in September 2018 following a joint venture between telecoms entrepreneur Dominic Kearns of technology group b4b and former Enet chief executive Henry.

Its initial remit was to improve connectivity in suburban and semi-rural towns currently suffering with low average broadband speeds, and its plan was to invest £100 million in rolling out fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to around 145,000 premises across Northern Ireland.

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