Belfast City Council has appointed Virgin Media Business to deliver a full fibre network to connect 200 Council sites across Belfast, guaranteeing the Council’s digital business requirements for the long-term.

The appointment follows the Council’s successful application to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Local Full Fibre Networks programme which secured £8m of funding for delivery of the overall project.

Roll out of the new full fibre network will be complete in a year, with 80% of the network provided through existing infrastructure.

Installation of the new network, estimated to be complete by September 2020, will also reap benefits for city businesses and residents thanks to an increased fibre footprint.

It is hoped it will improve broadband provision for Belfast businesses and indirectly lead to increased investment, as well as encouraging economic growth.

Alderman Brian Kingston, chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, welcomed the announcement:

“As we increasingly operate in a digital environment, it’s vitally important that Council future-proofs its own network and connections to ensure an uninterrupted service for ratepayers and businesses in the future,” he said.

“This new network 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.”

Minister for Digital and Broadband Matt Warman, 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.”

Rob Orr, Executive Director at Virgin Media Business, added:

“Virgin Media Business will be delivering more of its gigabit capable network to more premises in Belfast as part of this new deal. This will allow us to extend the reach of our network to new areas, connecting essential services that will help aid Belfast’s ambitious growth plans.”