Full fibre broadband rollout could attract over 30,000 people to NI

  • Photo: Mairead Meyer, Director of Openreach in NI

    Full fibre network in Northern Ireland could encourage 30,000 more people to move to the region, according to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

    Previous CEBR research commissioned by telecoms firm Openreach also estimated a £1.3bn addition to Northern Ireland's GVA as a result of the rollout of full fibre broadband.

    NI is the most digitally connected region currently in the UK, according to 2020 findings from Ofcom which reveal that 65% of Northern Ireland premises can now access full fibre broadband on Openreach's network.

    The telecoms company, which is a division of BT, has announced it will extend "ultrafast" full fibre broadband to at least 100,000 additional premises in the area to support economic recovery and digital connectivity. 

    Mairead Meyer, Director of Openreach in NI said the "report illustrates just how much of a game-changer the roll out of Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband across Northern Ireland could be."

    “Already Northern Ireland is able to access ultra-reliable broadband at speeds of up to 1Gbps on Openreach’s network, that’s 15 times faster than the national average," she continued.

    "But it’s findings like this that show why we’re determined to continue to push forward with our recent announcement of a further £100m investment to maintain our copper network and extend our Ultrafast Full Fibre roll out over next 12 months.

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    “The events of the past 12 months have only served to reinforce public recognition of the importance of high-quality broadband and it’s one of the reasons we are so committed to extending and improving the network here.

    "The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for increasingly flexible working solutions, which could have significant ramifications for the economy and wider society. Better connectivity and ultrafast broadband are key to that flexibility.”

    The CEBR research also suggests improved connectivity could cut commuter trips and reduce CO2 emissions, thus having environmental benefits.

    Ms Meyer continued: “The last 12 months has highlighted to many people the benefits of living outside of urban locations. The CEBR model suggests regional rebalancing as people could be supported to move from urban to more rural areas helping stimulate regional and rural economic growth.

    "The report also suggested that a comprehensive Full Fibre network could also unlock job opportunities for people otherwise left behind – such as carers, older people and parents looking to return to work. More than 26,000 people in Northern Ireland could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity."

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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