£8m fibre network will bring Belfast attractions ‘up to speed’

Belfast City Hall. Pic courtesy Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Belfast City Hall. Pic courtesy Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
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Virgin Media Business is set to connect more than 200 Belfast City Council locations to its ultrafast network, including its tourist attractions.

The multi-million pound contract will connect public service buildings and green spaces across the city.

As part of the deal, Virgin Media Business will connect sites across Belfast providing the ability to support fast and reliable public WiFi, digitally transforming services and new digital infrastructure such as traffic management sensors and 5G smart districts.

Virgin Media Business believes this will help Belfast City Council “deliver its digital ambition for the city and support Belfast’s Future City programme”.

The company has stated: “The improved connectivity will help deliver more integrated and efficient public services, as well as creating new opportunities for the city’s digital and creative sectors which build on the region’s strengths in cyber security, data analytics and software development.”

Rob Orr, Executive Director at Virgin Media Business, said: “This deal will bring next-generation connectivity to new areas of Belfast, helping bring together essential services and support the city’s ambitious growth plans.

“By connecting more of the city to our gigabit-capable network, we’ll make ultrafast connections available to a greater number of citizens and businesses as part of our commitment to support long-term economic growth in the whole of Northern Ireland.”

Alderman Brian Kingston, chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said: “As we increasingly operate in a digital environment, it’s vitally important that council futureproofs its own network and connections to ensure an uninterrupted service for ratepayers and businesses in the future.

“This new network from Virgin Media Business will meet our connectivity and digital business requirements for our long-term future, delivering almost unlimited bandwidth and providing a more secure purpose-built network for transactions, allowing council to deliver more efficient digital services for both staff and residents across all its sites.”

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital and Broadband said: “Belfast has so much going for it and I’m delighted it will benefit from £8 million in UK Government funding to provide its public services with future-proof, full fibre broadband.

“A city-wide fibre network will help attract further commercial investment and be a huge boost for businesses and residents.

“We want to deliver world-class, gigabit-capable broadband to the whole of the UK and are investing over £650 million in full fibre broadband until the end of 2021.”

In March, Virgin Media announced it was stepping up its investment in Northern Ireland as it opened a new, state-of-the-art office housing the majority of the company’s 350 employees in the country.

The deal is being delivered as part of the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) funding and will see Virgin Media Business expand its network and provide futureproof connectivity to local residents, businesses and public service buildings.

Virgin Media says that it will introduce “gigabit home broadband services” across its entire network by 2021 with residents in towns across the province set to benefit.

Since the company launched its Project Lightning expansion programme in 2015, it has invested close to £100 million in Northern Ireland and now offers ultrafast broadband services to more than 330,000 homes and businesses. Virgin Media has also connected more than 250 new housing developments since 2015 as well as upgrading a number of sites across the province.

This year Carrickfergus, Craigavon, New Buildings, Magheramason and Sion Mills have been connected to Virgin Media’s gigabit capable network with Lurgan set to follow suit shortly when works are complete.