BT is starting a £20 million project to upgrade thousands of homes in Northern Ireland to ‘ultrafast speeds’ above 100Mbps.
The telecoms giant announced the investment in mid-October, saying it would take until at least March 2019 to complete.
It’s the newest cash injection since Theresa May’s deal with the DUP unlocked around £150 million for broadband infrastructure in Northern Ireland.
We’re delighted to be investing at this significant level, delivering against our local ambition to futureproof our Northern Ireland infrastructure and rank favourably amongst the best fibre networks in Europe.
Through our current investment programmes, 25 per cent of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are scheduled to have access to ultrafast broadband by March 2019.- Mairead Meyer: Managing Director Networks, BT Northern Ireland
It’s not totally clear exactly what technology BT will be installing.
BT says customers will be able to expect ‘ultrafast’ speeds up to 1Gbps.
Gigabit-capable broadband is usually full fibre – meaning there’s no slow copper involved in the last half-mile from green street cabinets to your home.
BT is making waves with its rollout of G.fast technology to around 20 towns and cities in the UK, including Chorlton in Manchester, central Glasgow, Liverpool and parts of Cardiff.
G.fast is technically capable of up to 330Mbps downloads, but is still copper-based rather than fully fibre and speeds drop the further the signal has to travel.
It doesn’t appear to be the same fully fibre product used in direct Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) from the likes of Gigaclear and Hyperoptic – who themselves promise gigabit (1Gbps) speeds for both uploads AND downloads.
BT say the rollout will “predominantly” use FTTP, and bring 140,000 homes and businesses online at speeds up to 1Gbps. It is best to stay sceptical as BT relies on equivocal phrasing like ‘predominantly’ and ‘up to’.
There doesn’t appear to be a list of the first areas that will get the upgrade, but BT says when it is available it will arise on www.nibroadband.com.