‘Fibre’ funds for Councils

Councils across Northern Ireland have welcomed the news that they are to receive £15m in funding to further boost fibre availability across Northern Ireland.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 11:44 am
Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Cllr Howard Thornton, Cllr R Foster, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Deputy Mayor Cllr Eddie Thompson, Ards and North Down Borough Council Alderman Derek Hussey, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Cheryl Johnston, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Mayor Cllr Uel Mackin, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, Chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Cllr Mark Murnin, Lord Mayor, Cllr Julie Flaherty, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Deputy Chair Cllr Frances Burton, Mid Ulster District Council.

The funding comes from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through its Local Full Fibre Networks Programme (LFFN).

Since June 2018, Northern Ireland councils have come to together to form the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium (FFNI). The Consortium, which is hosted by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, is comprised of the 10 councils outside of Belfast. The Consortium will implement an exciting new collaborative programme to drive greater investment in fibre and digital infrastructure across the region.

Together the Consortium developed a Northern Ireland bid for £15m of LFFN funding from DCMS. This substantial funding award will be used to deliver full fibre to approximately 880 public sector sites, under the Public-Sector Anchor Tenancy model, by March 2021.

The project will enable Councils to significantly develop their ability to deliver services and improve access for communities and residents. It is hoped that this will be the first of many such investments over the next few years.

Minister for Digital Margot James said: “We’re building a Britain that’s fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy. This £15 million boost for gigabit speeds in Northern Ireland will benefit homes and businesses across the country and I congratulate the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium in its successful bid.”

Currently only 12% of premises in Northern Ireland have access to full fibre connectivity and outside of the major conurbations the figure is much lower. With responsibility for promoting economic development, and local knowledge, the councils within the FFNI Consortium are well positioned to drive fibre infrastructure in areas where it is most needed.

Through the FFNI programme the Consortium will therefore help to expand the fibre footprint across the region to ensure Northern Ireland has available and affordable connectivity to support future growth and prosperity.