A broadband infrastructure project to extend access to superfast broadband services across Northern Ireland
Project Stratum is a broadband infrastructure project that aims to utilise public funding of £165m to extend access to superfast broadband services to 79,000 premises across Northern Ireland.
The target intervention area for Project Stratum is predominantly rural – 97% of the 79,000 premises eligible to benefit from this intervention lie in areas classed by NISRA as band H, meaning settlements of less than 1,000 people or open countryside. Two thirds of these premises cannot access broadband services delivering speeds above 15 Mbps – the benchmark speed band for the project is 30 Mbps, aligned to the Draft Programme for Government and the National Broadband Scheme 2016, which is the procurement vehicle for the project and provides State aid cover.
The overarching objective of the project is to maximise broadband coverage across the target intervention area, and to ensure that no premises are beyond the scope of this intervention. A combination of full funding of £165m, along with vital industry contribution, will help DfE achieve these aims. The premises to benefit from Project Stratum will be in a position to avail of some of the highest available broadband speeds delivered through an NGA ‘full fibre’ solution, such as Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). This will provide citizens with the option of availing of broadband services with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, with speed packages available to consumers competitively priced on an open access network.
Project Stratum is currently at the mid-procurement stage with the evaluation of tenders well underway. Following internal governance procedures, State aid Assurance and final approvals, contract award is anticipated in Sept/Oct 2020. Full deployment will be completed by March 2024, with eligible premises starting to benefit from the improved infrastructure from around April 2021.
Project Stratum is led by an SIB-appointed Project Director; SIB is also providing Legal Counsel for the project, Financial Assessment expertise for phase I of the procurement; Project Development Research services (Lotting) were sourced through SIB; and the Buy Social team have engaged with the project to ensure that there is appropriate cover in the contract.
For further information contact:
Nigel Robbins, Project Director