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First Beneficiaries of Project Stratum Connected to Next Generation Access Broadband

Economy Minister Diane Dodds meets with Tara Hamill, one of the first beneficiaries of Project Stratum, and Chief Operating Officer for Fibrus Networks Ltd Conor Harrison. Credit: Aaron McCracken

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has welcomed the announcement Fibrus Networks has connected its first customers to Next Generation Access broadband under Project Stratum.

Just three months into the awarding of the Project Stratum contract, the first OLT (Optical Line Termination) in Coalisland, County Tyrone is now live with the first customers connected.

Once completed Project Stratum, the £165million broadband improvement scheme, will radically transform rural broadband connectivity by extending gigabit capable full fibre broadband infrastructure to approximately 76,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.

Project Stratum is Life Changing

Commenting after speaking to Tara Hamill, one of the first beneficiaries of Project Stratum, the Minister said: “In today’s world we are especially reliant on our broadband services and good connectivity. More and more of our work and leisure time is spent online and if you don’t have access to good broadband this can be a real issue. Speaking to Tara Hamill has underscored the difference Project Stratum can make to peoples lives and how it is bringing tangible benefits to householders.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds meets with Tara Hamill, one of the first beneficiaries of Project Stratum, and Chief Operating Officer for Fibrus Networks Ltd Conor Harrison. Credit: Aaron McCracken

“I know there are many communities, especially in rural areas, which have been waiting a long time for improvements in their broadband speeds. These first connections demonstrate Fibrus Networks have the capability and capacity to deliver full fibre solutions, with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, to many rural premises transforming the broadband connectivity landscape for individuals and businesses across Northern Ireland.”

“I want to congratulate Fibrus Networks on reaching the first significant milestone and I look forward to hearing about their continued deployment in bringing the benefits of Next Generation Access broadband to many more neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland.”

Commitment and Dedication

Chief Operating Officer for Fibrus Networks Ltd Conor Harrison added: “The logistical planning and immediate execution of this work is testament to the commitment and dedication of Fibrus, as well as the skill of our team who are equipped and ready to deliver full fibre broadband to the people of Northern Ireland.”

UK Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “Access to fast and reliable broadband is a central focus of our mission to build back better. The UK government has invested £150million in Project Stratum to roll out top-of-the-range speeds not just to towns and cities but to rural communities across Northern Ireland. It’s great news for thousands of people and I’m excited to see the first customers plugged in to these game-changing gigabit connections.”

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Importance of Improved Digital Connectivity Cannot be Overstated

(L-R) Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, Griana Fox, Fibre Ambassador and Fibrus Networks’ Hyperfast NI Programme and Commercial Director, Shane Haslem.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has visited Killyleagh as hundreds of homes and businesses in the area go live with access to next generation access broadband speeds under Project Stratum.

Project Stratum represents a £150million investment by the UK government, allocated to the Department for the Economy as part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement, alongside £15million by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs with further investment by the contractor, Fibrus Networks Ltd.

Department for the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “Killyleagh is the latest town to go live as a result of Project Stratum, the £165 million infrastructure project which will bring Next Generation Access broadband to over 76,000 premises across Northern Ireland. This investment in our broadband infrastructure is set to transform the broadband connectivity landscape here. Hyperfast NI, delivered by Fibrus Networks Ltd, have now completed work they began earlier in the year in the Strangford area, including towns such as Killyleagh, Killinchy and Newtownards. This announcement sees over 640 premises in the area, previously identified as being without quality coverage, with access to hyperfast broadband speeds. As a result people and businesses are already seeing the benefits of improved connectivity.

“The importance of improved digital connectivity cannot be overstated. It can mean better access to online services for businesses and members of the public alike. An improved online presence can help businesses to sell their goods, promote their services and in the case of our local tourism providers help them to attract visitors and people to the area. 

Pictured in Killyleagh are (L-R) Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Fibrus Networks’ Hyperfast NI Programme and Commercial Director, Shane Haslem

“This is the latest announcement by Fibrus, with extensive work across South Down and other towns in Mid Ulster and the North Coast already completed and I look forward to tracking progress as more and more premises go live across Northern Ireland.”

Fibrus Networks’ Hyperfast NI Programme and Commercial Director, Shane Haslem added: “Providing rural communities like Killyleagh with proper connectivity opportunities and access to quality broadband is at the heart of what we do. For too long, rural and regional areas have gone without adequate broadband infrastructure, despite being a hub for local businesses, start-ups and support services.

“When the pandemic hit, we were urged to ‘Stay at Home’ and confined to working, learning and entertaining ourselves from home. This unsurprisingly increased the demand for online and digital usage, meaning broadband quickly became like any other utility. To modern homes and businesses, it is now as essential as your electricity and heating.

“We are delighted that Killyleagh and other parts of the Strangford area have now joined the Rural Revolution, as our full fibre network goes live. We will continue to address the imbalance in rural connectivity across Northern Ireland and we look forward to seeing more communities enjoying the benefits of our transformative full fibre network.”

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Allstate NI Offers Cyber Safety Training for Older Adults

Allstate NI is offering free cyber safety training sessions to protect older consumers from online scams.

The interactive sessions, which cover everything from fraud and identity protection to email and telephone scams, will help those over 60 navigate the internet with confidence.

The community initiative comes after it was revealed that over £6 million was lost to scams in Northern Ireland in 2020.

The virtual sessions will cover general cybersecurity awareness, fraud, identity theft, and email and telephone scams and will equip attendees with the tools to protect their passwords and privacy settings.

Technologists at Allstate developed the initiative following the success of its Cyber Safety for Kids scheme, a training programme that has reached over 11,000 children globally since launching in Northern Ireland in 2018.

Like the award-winning kids programme, the training for older adults will be delivered across Northern Ireland, the U.S and India to protect as many people as possible.

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Allstate Jeff Wright said:

“Cybercrime is on the rise and hackers are getting smarter. There is no doubt that all of us are at risk, however older members of society are a growing target for cybercriminals. That’s why we are reaching out to local communities and offering free, online training sessions to ensure more people have the knowledge and awareness to stop cybercrime in its tracks.”

Vice President and Deputy Chief Information Security Officer at Allstate NI Keith Lippert said:

“COVID-19 forced everyone online and more people are using the internet for tasks that require sharing sensitive information. In these sessions, Allstate cybersecurity professionals will talk about the most common scams and how to avoid falling victim to them. Individuals are encouraged to ask questions and get tips that will best protect them and their assets.”

Superintendent Gerard Pollock, Police Service of Northern Ireland said:

“I welcome any initiatives which advise and educate people on how they can avoid falling victim to scams and encourage anyone who has been a victim to report it to police on the non-emergency telephone number 101.”

Virtual sessions are available throughout the summer:

  • Tuesday, July 27, 10-11 a.m. GMT
  • Thursday, August 5, 12-1 p.m. GMT
  • Tuesday August 24, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. GMT

Click here to sign up for the training sessions. To learn more about group bookings, email allstatecybersafety@allstate.com.

For further advice and information relating to scams, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni.

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