Fast Fibre Northern Ireland: Fuelling Growth with £6 Million

March 29th, 2024
Fast Fibre Northern Ireland: Fuelling Growth with £6 Million

Northern Ireland is making significant strides in broadband connectivity with the £6 million Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme. This initiative, a partnership between BTWholesale and Barclay Communications, aims to provide businesses across the region with access to ultra-fast fibre broadband, paving the way for increased productivity, innovation, and economic growth. With further publicly funded investment planned to deliver fast broadband to hard-to-reach areas through the Northern Ireland Executive's broadband scheme Project Stratum, and the upcoming implementation of Project Gigabit, the scheme is a crucial step towards transforming Northern Ireland's digital infrastructure, ensuring that businesses can thrive in an increasingly connected world.

What benefits does the £6 million Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme bring to Northern Ireland?

The £6 million Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme brings numerous benefits to Northern Ireland, including:

  1. Improved broadband speeds: The scheme aims to provide businesses with ultra-fast fibre broadband, offering speeds of up to 1 Gbps. This represents a significant upgrade from the current average speeds in the region, depending on factors like your connection type. This enables businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively. With faster and more reliable internet connectivity, businesses can seamlessly engage in data-intensive activities such as video conferencing, cloud computing, and large file transfers.
  2. Enhanced productivity: The Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme empowers businesses to streamline their operations, collaborate more easily, and access cloud-based services without interruption. By eliminating the frustrations associated with slow and unreliable internet connections, the scheme enables businesses to focus on their core activities and drive productivity. Enhanced connectivity also facilitates remote working, allowing businesses to tap into a wider talent pool and offer flexible working arrangements to their employees.
  3. Economic growth: The Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme is expected to have a profound impact on Northern Ireland's economy. By providing businesses with the necessary digital infrastructure, the scheme will attract investment, stimulate innovation, and create new job opportunities across various sectors. The improved connectivity will make Northern Ireland an attractive destination for businesses looking to establish or expand their operations, fostering a thriving digital economy.
  4. Bridging the urban-rural divide: The scheme aims to extend ultra-fast fibre broadband coverage to both urban and rural areas, ensuring that businesses across Northern Ireland can benefit from high-speed connectivity. By bridging the digital divide between urban and rural communities, the scheme promotes inclusive growth and ensures that no business is left behind in the digital transformation.
  5. Future-proofing Northern Ireland's digital infrastructure: The Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme represents a significant step towards future-proofing Northern Ireland's digital infrastructure. By investing in Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology, the scheme lays the foundation for a robust and scalable broadband network that can meet the evolving needs of businesses in the years to come. This future-proof infrastructure will enable Northern Ireland to stay competitive in the global digital landscape and adapt to emerging technologies.

What benefits does the £6 million Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme bring to Northern Ireland

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How are businesses in Northern Ireland benefiting from the BT Wholesale and Barclay Communications partnership?

The partnership between BT Wholesale and Barclay Communications is crucial to the success of the Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme, bringing several benefits to businesses in Northern Ireland:

  1. Expanded coverage: By leveraging BT Wholesale's infrastructure and Barclay Communications' expertise, the partnership ensures that ultra-fast fibre broadband is available to businesses across the region, including those in previously underserved areas. The collaboration aims to extend high-speed internet access to even the most remote parts of Northern Ireland, enabling businesses in rural areas to compete on a level playing field with their urban counterparts.
  2. Tailored solutions: Barclay Communications works closely with businesses to understand their specific connectivity needs and provides tailored broadband packages that align with their requirements. Whether a business needs symmetric upload and download speeds, dedicated bandwidth, or advanced security features, Barclay Communications offers customised solutions to maximise the benefits of ultra-fast fibre broadband. This customer-centric approach ensures that businesses can leverage the full potential of the Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme to drive their growth and success.
  3. Reliable support: The partnership offers comprehensive support services to businesses, including installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. With dedicated support teams and streamlined processes, businesses can rely on a stable and consistent broadband connection, reducing downtime and disruptions to their operations. The partnership also provides proactive monitoring and rapid response to any broadband issues, ensuring that businesses can focus on their core activities without worrying about connectivity problems.
  4. Innovative broadband solutions: BT Wholesale and Barclay Communications are committed to delivering innovative broadband solutions that cater to the evolving needs of businesses in Northern Ireland. The partnership invests in research and development to explore new technologies and services that can further enhance the capabilities of ultra-fast fibre broadband. By staying at the forefront of innovation, the partnership ensures that businesses in Northern Ireland can leverage cutting-edge connectivity solutions to drive their digital transformation.
  5. Competitive pricing: The collaboration between BT Wholesale and Barclay Communications enables the delivery of ultra-fast fibre broadband at competitive prices. By pooling their resources and expertise, the partnership can offer cost-effective broadband packages that provide exceptional value for money. This makes ultra-fast fibre broadband more accessible to businesses of all sizes, allowing them to benefit from high-speed connectivity without breaking the bank.

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What is the coverage of ultra-fast fibre broadband in Northern Ireland?

The Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme aims to extend the coverage of ultra-fast fibre broadband throughout Northern Ireland. As of March 2023, the scheme has achieved the following coverage:

  • 85% of businesses in Northern Ireland now have access to ultra-fast fibre broadband.
  • The scheme has prioritised areas that were previously underserved, ensuring that businesses in both urban and rural locations can benefit from high-speed connectivity.
  • The initiative has laid 10,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cables, connecting 20,000 businesses to the ultra-fast network.

The scheme's focus on expanding coverage to rural areas is particularly significant, as it addresses the longstanding issue of the urban-rural digital divide. By bringing ultra-fast fibre broadband to businesses in remote locations, the scheme enables them to participate fully in the digital economy and access the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. This inclusive approach to broadband expansion is crucial for promoting balanced regional development and ensuring that no business is left behind in the digital transformation.

Moreover, the Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme's coverage expansion aligns with the broader goals of Northern Ireland's digital infrastructure strategy. The scheme complements other initiatives aimed at enhancing digital connectivity, such as the Superfast Rollout Programme and the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme. By working in tandem with these programs, the Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme contributes to the creation of a comprehensive and cohesive digital infrastructure that can support the growth and competitiveness of businesses across Northern Ireland.

What is the coverage of ultra-fast fibre broadband in Northern Ireland

Who is eligible for the Free Ultra-Fast Fibre connection scheme?

The Free Ultra-Fast Fibre connection scheme is available to businesses across Northern Ireland that meet certain eligibility criteria:

  1. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): The scheme prioritises SMEs, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding £50 million. By targeting SMEs, the scheme recognises the critical role that these businesses play in driving economic growth and job creation in Northern Ireland. SMEs often face greater challenges in accessing high-speed broadband due to limited resources and bargaining power, making the Free Ultra-Fast Fibre connection scheme a valuable opportunity for them to level the playing field and compete effectively in the digital economy.
  2. Underserved areas: Businesses located in areas that have historically had limited access to high-speed broadband are given preference under the scheme. These areas, often rural or remote, have been left behind in previous broadband rollouts, resulting in a digital divide that hampers economic development and social inclusion. By prioritising underserved areas, the scheme aims to bridge this gap and ensure that businesses in these locations can benefit from the same connectivity advantages as their urban counterparts.
  3. Commitment to digital growth: Eligible businesses must demonstrate a commitment to leveraging digital technologies for growth and innovation. This includes having a plan for how ultra-fast fibre broadband will be used to enhance their operations, improve customer engagement, and drive business outcomes. The scheme seeks to support businesses that recognise the transformative potential of digital connectivity and are actively pursuing digital strategies to boost their competitiveness and resilience.

To apply for the Free Ultra-Fast Fibre connection scheme, businesses can visit Barclay Communications' website or contact their local BTWholesale representative. The application process involves providing basic business information, demonstrating eligibility, and outlining the business's digital growth plans. Successful applicants will receive a free installation of new broadband, specifically ultra-fast fibre broadband, enabling them to unlock the benefits of high-speed connectivity for their operations.

How does ultra-fast fibre broadband impact economic growth in Northern Ireland?

Studies have shown that access to ultra-fast broadband has a significant impact on economic growth. In Northern Ireland, it is estimated that the expansion of fibre broadband could boost the economy by:

Economic Benefit Estimated Impact
Job Creation 2,500 new jobs
Business Growth £250 million
Productivity 15% increase

The economic impact of ultra-fast fibre broadband extends beyond these direct benefits. The availability of high-speed connectivity acts as a catalyst for innovation, enabling businesses to develop new products, services, and business models. It opens up opportunities for businesses to expand their reach, access new markets, and collaborate with partners across the globe. The increased efficiency and productivity gains associated with ultra-fast broadband also contribute to the overall competitiveness of Northern Ireland's economy, thanks to the reliable and resilient fibre network.

Moreover, the rollout of ultra-fast fibre broadband has a positive spill over effect on various sectors of the economy. For example, the construction industry benefits from the deployment of fibre infrastructure, creating jobs and stimulating local economic activity. The enhanced connectivity also supports the growth of the creative industries, such as digital media and software development, which rely on high-speed internet to deliver their services. Additionally, ultra-fast broadband enables the development of smart city initiatives, improving public services and quality of life for citizens.

The economic impact of ultra-fast fibre broadband is not limited to the business sector alone. Improved connectivity also brings significant benefits to households and individuals. With reliable high-speed internet, people can access a wide range of online services, including education, healthcare, and government services. It enables remote working, reducing commuting time and costs while improving work-life balance. Furthermore, having the fastest broadband empowers individuals to participate in the digital economy, whether through e-commerce, freelance work, or digital entrepreneurship.

How does ultra-fast fibre broadband impact economic growth in Northern Ireland?

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The Best Broadband Deals in Northern Ireland: Top 10 Providers

  1. Introduction: When it comes to finding the best broadband deals in Northern Ireland, there are numerous options to choose from. Whether you're looking for lightning-fast speeds, reliable connections, or affordable packages, the top 10 broadband providers in the region have something to offer.
  2. BT Broadband: As a leading broadband supplier, BT offers extensive coverage across Northern Ireland, including full fibre broadband plans. With their user-friendly postcode checker tool, you can easily find the best BT broadband deals available in your area. BT's commitment to providing fast and reliable internet connectivity makes them a top choice for many households and businesses. Other top internet providers in Northern Ireland include Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, EE, Plusnet, Vodafone, Hyperoptic, Zen Internet, and Gigaclear, all offering a range of deals to suit different needs and budgets.
  3. Virgin Media: Known for their high-speed connections, Virgin Media is a popular choice for those seeking superfast broadband and full fibre options. While their services are primarily available in urban areas, Virgin Media is actively expanding its network to include more rural locations. With their cutting-edge technology and competitive pricing, Virgin Media is a strong contender in the Northern Irish broadband market.
  4. Sky Broadband: Sky Broadband offers a range of packages to suit various needs, from standard broadband to superfast options. As a trusted provider, Sky frequently includes attractive gift vouchers as part of their broadband deals for new customers. With their reputation for quality service and customer support, Sky Broadband is a great option for many Northern Irish households.
  5. TalkTalk: For budget-conscious consumers, TalkTalk provides competitive cheap broadband deals without compromising on quality. Their services include both standard and fibre broadband options, catering to different usage requirements. With TalkTalk, you can enjoy reliable internet connectivity at an affordable price point.
  6. Vodafone: In addition to their mobile services, Vodafone offers superfast broadband and full fibre broadband plans designed to meet the needs of heavy internet users. With robust speeds and reliable connections, Vodafone ensures a seamless online experience for streaming, gaming, and remote working. Their packages are tailored to deliver exceptional value and performance.
  7. Plusnet: Renowned for their outstanding customer service, Plusnet offers a range of broadband services, including cheap broadband and superfast broadband. Their flexible plans and commitment to customer satisfaction make them a favourite among various households. With Plusnet, you can expect transparent pricing, reliable connections, and exceptional support.
  8. EE Broadband: EE leverages its extensive mobile network to offer unique broadband deals that combine mobile and home internet services. With coverage spanning both urban and rural areas, EE focuses on providing reliable connections wherever you are. Their packages often include generous data allowances and bundled mobile plans, making them a convenient choice for those seeking a comprehensive connectivity solution.
  9. Three Broadband: Specialising in mobile broadband, Three is an excellent choice for those seeking internet on the go. Their plans offer flexibility and convenience, particularly for users in areas where traditional fixed-line broadband services are limited. With Three, you can enjoy fast and reliable internet access using their mobile network technology.
  10. Fibrus: As a local provider dedicated to expanding full fibre broadband in Northern Ireland, Fibrus is committed to bridging the digital divide. They offer ultrafast speeds and focus on serving rural communities that have been underserved by other providers. With Fibrus, you can experience the benefits of high-speed internet connectivity, even in remote areas.
  11. Hyperoptic: While more limited in availability compared to other providers, Hyperoptic specialises in delivering full fibre broadband to apartments and multi-dwelling units in urban areas. Their service is synonymous with high-speed internet and quality connectivity. If you reside in an area covered by Hyperoptic, you can expect exceptional download and upload speeds for seamless streaming, gaming, and online activities.

Broadband Speeds Comparison in Northern Ireland

Provider Standard Broadband Superfast Broadband Ultrafast Broadband
BT Broadband Up to 17 Mbps Up to 76 Mbps Up to 900 Mbps
Virgin Media N/A Up to 362 Mbps Up to 1130 Mbps
Sky Broadband Up to 17 Mbps Up to 59 Mbps Up to 900 Mbps
TalkTalk Up to 17 Mbps Up to 67 Mbps Up to 900 Mbps
Vodafone N/A Up to 63 Mbps Up to 900 Mbps
Plusnet Up to 17 Mbps Up to 66 Mbps N/A
EE Broadband Up to 17 Mbps Up to 67 Mbps Up to 900 Mbps
Three Broadband N/A Up to 100 Mbps N/A
Fibrus N/A N/A Up to 1000 Mbps
Hyperoptic N/A N/A Up to 1000 Mbps

Here's a brief explanation of the different speed categories:

  • Standard Broadband: Also known as ADSL, this is the most basic and widely available broadband connection. Speeds typically range from 10 to 17 Mbps.
  • Superfast Broadband: Offering speeds above 30 Mbps, superfast broadband is suitable for households with multiple devices and moderate internet usage. Speeds can reach up to 362 Mbps depending on the provider and package.
  • Ultrafast Broadband: With speeds of 100 Mbps and above, ultrafast broadband is ideal for heavy internet users, large households, and businesses. It enables seamless streaming, gaming, and downloading. Some providers offer speeds up to 1000 Mbps or more.

It's important to note that not all speed categories are available from every provider, and the availability of each service depends on the specific location. Prospective customers should use the postcode checker tools provided by the broadband suppliers to determine the speeds and packages available in their area.

When choosing a broadband package, consider your specific needs, such as the number of connected devices, the types of online activities you engage in, and your budget. While higher speeds generally offer better performance, it's essential to strike a balance between speed and affordability based on your requirements.

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Broadband Speeds Comparison in Northern Ireland

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Belfast: A City Connected by Full-Fibre Broadband

Recent data from Ofcom's Connected Nations report reveals that more than nine in 10 Northern Ireland homes can now access full-fibre broadband, with Belfast leading the charge in high-speed internet connectivity. Nearly 750,000 homes in Northern Ireland have access to full-fibre broadband, over 51,000 more than last year. As the demand for reliable and fast internet grows, more and more residents are looking to upgrade their broadband plans.

The Benefits of Full-Fibre Broadband

Full-fibre broadband uses fibre optic cables all the way to your home, providing faster, more reliable, and resilient internet compared to traditional copper-based networks. Some key benefits of full-fibre broadband include:

  1. Faster download and upload speeds
  2. Lower latency for improved gaming and video calling
  3. More reliable connections with fewer faults
  4. Future-proof technology that can support growing internet demands

With households in Northern Ireland now using an average of 568 GB of broadband data per month, full-fibre broadband is better equipped to support homes with multiple people working, gaming, and video-calling simultaneously.

Finding the Best Broadband Deals in Belfast

With so many broadband providers and plans available, it can be challenging to find the best deal for your needs and budget. Here are some tips to help you compare broadband deals in Belfast:

What to Consider When Comparing Broadband Deals

  • Speed: Look for plans that offer the download and upload speeds you need for your daily internet activities, such as streaming, gaming, or remote work.
  • Price: Compare prices from different providers and consider any introductory offers or discounts.
  • Contract length: Choose a contract length that suits your needs, whether you prefer a short-term or long-term commitment.

Extras: Some plans may include additional features like Wi-Fi boosters, security software, or TV packages.

How to Find the Best Broadband Deal for Your Home

Use a broadband comparison tool to see available plans in your area.

  1. Read reviews from current customers to gauge the provider's reliability and customer service.
  2. Check if you're eligible for any special deals or discounts, such as student or low-income plans.
  3. Contact providers directly to negotiate a better deal or ask about any unadvertised offers.

Fibre Broadband Availability in Belfast

Belfast is well-covered by fibre broadband, with many homes and businesses able to access high-speed internet through various providers. However, availability can vary depending on your specific location.

Can I Get Fibre Broadband in My Area?

To check if fibre broadband is available at your address, you can:

Use an online postcode checker tool provided by broadband providers or comparison websites.

  1. Contact providers directly to inquire about availability in your area.
  2. Check with local community forums or social media groups to see what other residents have access to.

Fibre Broadband Availability in Belfast

Broadband Coverage Across Belfast Postcodes

Belfast is divided into several postcode districts, each with varying levels of broadband availability. Here's a breakdown of the main areas:

  • BT1, BT2 & BT3: Belfast City Centre
  • BT4: Stormont & Sydenham (Victoria)
  • BT5: Castlereagh
  • BT6: Cregagh
  • BT7: Ormeau Road, Lower Ormeau, Ormeau Bridge, Upper Ormeau & Donegall Pass
  • BT9: Laganbank including Lisburn Road, Malone & Taughmonagh
  • BT10: Finaghy

Other Areas Near Belfast with Full-Fibre Broadband

  • Antrim: BT41
  • Ballynahinch: BT24
  • Bangor: BT19, BT20
  • Carrickfergus: BT38
  • Downpatrick: BT30
  • Hillsborough: BT26
  • Lisburn: BT27, BT28
  • Newtownabbey: BT36, BT37

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do businesses apply for the free ultra-fast fibre connection?

Businesses can apply for the free connection through Barclay Communications' website or by contacting their local BT Wholesale representative.

What is the minimum speed businesses can expect with ultra-fast fibre broadband?

The ultra-fast fibre broadband provided under this scheme offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps, enabling businesses to seamlessly engage in data-intensive activities such as video conferencing, cloud computing, and large file transfers.

How does Northern Ireland's broadband speed compare to the rest of the UK?

With the implementation of the Ultra-Fast Fibre Scheme, Northern Ireland aims to surpass the average broadband speeds in the UK. The region is set to become a leader in high-speed internet connectivity, attracting businesses and fostering innovation.

Are there any additional costs associated with the ultra-fast fibre connection?

The installation of the ultra-fast fibre connection is provided free of charge under the scheme. However, businesses may need to pay for their ongoing broadband service, which will be based on the package they choose from their internet service provider.

What support is available for businesses that encounter broadband issues?

Businesses can access comprehensive support services through the BT Wholesale and Barclay Communications partnership. This includes dedicated support teams, troubleshooting assistance, and proactive monitoring to ensure a stable and reliable broadband connection.

How can businesses maximise the benefits of ultra-fast fibre broadband?

To maximise the benefits of ultra-fast fibre broadband, businesses should develop a digital strategy that aligns with their goals and objectives. This may involve adopting cloud-based services, implementing remote working policies, investing in digital skills training for employees, and exploring new opportunities for innovation and growth.

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