Fibrus awarded £108 million broadband contract for full fibre roll-out in Cumbria

UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan (centre) with Firbus founders Conal Henry (left) and Dominc Kearns (right).
UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan (centre) with Firbus founders Conal Henry (left) and Dominc Kearns (right).

NORTHERN Ireland full fibre broadband company Fibrus has been awarded a £108 million contract by the UK Government.

The biggest contract to date under London’s £5 billion Project Gigabit broadband roll-out programme, it will see the Belfast-based company deliver high speed connectivity to around 60,000 premises in Cumbria.

It comes just four years after the company was originally launched by Conal Henry and Dominic Kearns.

In November 2020, Fibrus was awarded the £175m Project Stratum contract by Stormont's Department for the Economy to roll out full fibre broadband to 76,000 premises in Northern Ireland.

An additional £32m was later awarded to include another 8,500 harder to reach premises around the north.

The company said it is at the halfway point in the Project Stratum scheme.

Earlier this year, Fibrus announced its plans to invest £200m to expand in Britain.

Chief executive Dominic Kearns said the Project Gigabit contract represents validation of the firm's business model.

Alongside the major government contracts, Fibrus has continued to seek significant outside funding, raising £220m from a consortium of banks as recently as April 2022.

“Winning this contract to connect Cumbria extends the Fibrus investment plan to 700,000 homes and £700m,” said Mr Kearns. “And sets us on the road to being central to national digital infrastructure.

“Fibrus has already created over 350 jobs and will invest over £500m in their mission to transform the digital infrastructure by bringing hyperfast, full fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses in towns and villages across the UK.

“Fibrus had already committed to investing its own resources to develop full fibre broadband across 45 towns in Cumbria,” he added.

“Now, the company is set to become the primary provider of full fibre broadband in the region, much in the way that it has done in rural and regional Northern Ireland.” 

Installation work is already underway in Cumbria. 

Fibrus has committed to creating at least 90 apprenticeships in response to the government investment.

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in London, said: “We’re steaming ahead with our plan to level up internet speeds across Cumbria, which will see the biggest investment to date from the government’s Project Gigabit – the biggest broadband roll out in British history. 

“Tens of thousands of rural homes and businesses will be able to plug into faster connections in the new network, allowing Cumbrian communities to take full advantage of the endless benefits lightning-fast broadband has to offer.”