Belfast Telegraph

Brexit won't hinder investment in Northern Ireland broadband speeds, says Virgin

By John Mulgrew

Virgin Media's boss says Brexit "hasn't dampened our appetite to invest" as it rolls out its new 'ultrafast' broadband to more than 50,000 homes across Northern Ireland.

Tony Hanway, chief executive of Virgin Media Ireland, was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as the company announced that work has begun on its new faster broadband across Northern Ireland as part of an overall £3bn investment.

"It's great news for Northern Ireland, a region of the UK that has experienced some of the slower broadband speeds," he said.

"We will be connecting to a minimum of 100Mb/s to a potential of 300, or up to 350 for businesses.

"We are not announcing any change in our tariffs, so it's an expansion of our network. The tariffs compare favourably to the competition for a far superior service."

Mr Hanway said a lot of the work was already under way to install the new network across Northern Ireland.

"Northern Ireland is getting more than its proportionate share of the programme.

"We are very happy. We are growing the network. The brand is doing well in the province and attracting customers.

"This is the next step for us. To bring more super-fast broadband.

"It takes us on a whole new trajectory in terms of growth."

But he said that while Brexit "hasn't dampened our appetite to invest", that the business would keep an eye on any changes.

"It's definitely a factor we have looked at, but it hasn't dampened investment in the UK.

"(We are) very much on track."

He said the new faster broadband, which installs fibre optic into homes is "future-proof".

"In many respects, this investment is going to stand the test of time much more than other technologies."

Work has already begun in communities including Ballykelly, Bangor, Limavady, Newtownards, Strabane and Artigarvan, with customers benefiting from ultrafast speeds.

"Families and businesses - from Bangor to Ballykelly - will soon benefit from ultrafast broadband 12 times faster than the average speed available today," Mr Hanway said.

"Virgin Media stands ready to invest in Northern Ireland, without subsidy from Stormont, London or Brussels.

"But, like any major infrastructure investment, we need support from local authorities and Government to cut through red tape so we can connect more homes and businesses more quickly."

The new broadband's lowest tier is around four times as fast as average speeds in Northern Ireland, according to Virgin Media.

Backed by parent company Liberty Global, Virgin Media says it is investing £3bn to extend its fibre broadband network to an additional four million premises, and to reach a total of 17 million homes and businesses when the scheme is completed.

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