A new report commissioned by BT suggested that new fiber investment could translate into big economic gains for Northern Ireland. And while that could be true, the background of this story is controversial. And some sources note that the study’s statement that every pound invested in the effort will drive £8 in benefits by 2033 should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here’s a bit of background on what’s happening here and why.
Last year U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to provide £150 million in funding following the 2017’s snap U.K. election. May did that after losing her parliamentary majority in the snap election. So she now relies on support from lawmakers in the Democratic Unionist Party. The funding for the broadband fiber build was the outcome of her negotiations with DUP to keep the Conservative Party in government.
Reuters in January reported that Britain’s government has been threatened with legal action by an anti-Brexit campaigner and union. Some parties believe the funding agreement is unlawful because it happened with parliamentary agreement.
And just last month there were local elections. The New York Times last month noted that Britain’s Conservative Party did ok in those. But it added that the past year has been tumultuous for the leader following the 2017 snap election.
May’s “leadership has been in question since she called an unnecessary general election last June in which she lost her parliamentary majority,” The New York Times reported. “That has forced her to rely on an uneasy alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to get legislation through Parliament.”
In any case, the effort to bring more fiber to Northern Ireland seems to be moving forward, although not at a particularly rapid pace according to some reports. The plan calls for bringing ultrafast fiber broadband to more than 140,000 businesses and residents in Northern Ireland.
The June 5 ISPreview story noted above reports “Naturally BT (News - Alert) will be keen to grab a slice of the action and so it doesn’t hurt to be associated with another optimistic economic forecast.” The story goes on to say that Northern Ireland “already has universal coverage of so-called ‘fibre broadband’ based networks (mostly FTTC with some FTTP or Cable DOCSIS) but only around 86% of premises can actually access ‘superfast broadband’ speeds of 24Mbps+ via those.”
Edited by Maurice Nagle