Broadband: Belfast Invests in Fibre Networks

By: Liam G

Somewhat ahead of BT's broadband fibre network development plans for parts of Kent, Northern Ireland's government gave their go-ahead and support to implement a similar network in parts of Belfast recently.

The project was funded by The Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) and will work as a kind of "trial", in that it will allow companies to gain a clearer picture of the cost, technical and practical issues of installing a fibre network.

The trial covers two networks, both of which involve around 180 new homes.

The first was installed by Virgin Media, and provides "fibre to the cabinet" to a series of street cabinets spanning the housing development. The connection from the cabinet to the home is then made along traditional copper cables.

The second, installed by Bytel Networks, is limited to just 10 homes, and provides a "fibre to the home" network. Within these homes a small unit was installed under the stairs that converts the fibre's optical signal into a digital one. Connections to the houses' telephone sockets where then made using copper wiring.

Both networks will be capable of providing residences with a broadband download speed of 20Mbps, at a reasonable cost.

This is because installing fibre networks into new houses does prove an economical investment; it's just the replacement of copper to fibre networks that proves costly. This is one of the factors that is causing Britain to lag behind in the race to super fast broadband.

As mentioned, the two networks will prove as a trial, allowing companies to asses which network proves more successful, thus allowing for better future growth.

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