Openreach names 94 rural locations for full fibre rollout in NI

Openreach names 94 rural locations for full fibre rollout in NI

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Openreach has announced the names of 94 rural towns and villages throughout Northern Ireland that will receive gigabit-capable connectivity over the next two years.

The locations include the likes of Kilrea in County Londonderry, Lisbellaw in County Fermanagh and Warrenpoint in County Down. All can expect to be able to access full fibre-to-the-premises broadband by the end of March 2022.

This brings the total number of locations across Northern Ireland set to benefit from this technology to 124, with the company building out to around 750 new properties every day.

In order to assist with this, Openreach, which is Northern Ireland's largest digital infrastructure provider, has also announced plans to recruit more than 100 new apprentice engineers in the country to help ensure it has the skills it needs to roll out ultrafast broadband throughout the region.

Director of Openreach Northern Ireland Mairead Miller said she is "delighted" to be announcing the latest investment in the region's broadband capabilities, noting that it is particularly important to bring these services to rural parts of the country.

"We're hopeful that with continued investment in the full fibre broadband network, there will be benefits for everyone right across NI, no matter where they live, work or study and we're proud to be building a strong and resilient network that will meet the needs of everyone, now and in the future," she added.

A recent Openreach report about the future of connectivity in Northern Ireland noted that full fibre will be a key enabler for supporting the nation's economic recovery, especially as consumer behaviours and working patterns have shifted to become more digital during the coronavirus pandemic.

It observed people have shown little appetite to go back to the 'old normal', instead preferring to work, shop and learn from home, which will be dependent on fast, reliable connectivity.

The latest additions to the full fibre rollout were also welcomed by business groups. Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "The continued investment and rollout of full fibre broadband will bring greater opportunities for everyone - from wholesalers and independent retailers to suppliers to the retail sector – leading to improved digitalisation and help to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas."

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