AROUND 97,000 premises across Northern Ireland are eligible to benefit from improved broadband connectivity under ‘Project Stratum’, the Department for the Economy says.
The Department today published its response to a public consultation on the proposed intervention area for the £165m project, which seeks to improve connectivity for those unable to access broadband services of 30 Mbps or greater.
The intervention area has been determined following an Open Market Review (OMR) exercise carried out with industry through June and July 2018, followed by the OMR State aid public consultation, which ran from the start of December 2018 to January 2019.
Announcing the publication, Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary at the Department, said: “This announcement represents a positive step forward, with 97,000 premises eligible for potential intervention in rural areas.
“This significant investment seeks to ensure Next Generation Access broadband services can be accessed by as many premises as possible across Northern Ireland.
“While the final number and location of premises to benefit from the project will not be known until the procurement is complete and a contract has been awarded, Project Stratum enables us to build on broadband connectivity achievements to date.
“The UK Government has fully recognised that there are many rural areas across Northern Ireland where broadband access remains an issue. This was clearly demonstrated through the high number of responses to the consultation.
“Within the Department we will continue to seek to maximise the industry contribution, over and above the current £165m public investment, to ensure as many premises as possible continue to benefit from the project”.
A postcode checker is available on NI Direct at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/check-if-your-address-might-get-faster-broadband which allows people to confirm the eligibility of their premises and potentially benefit from the project.
The procurement for the project, funded from the Confidence and Supply Agreement and additional assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, was launched on 11 July 2019 and contract award is anticipated in mid-2020.