Fibrus delivers Project Stratum at full fibre speed

More than 74,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland now have access to full fibre broadband following a speedy roll out of Project Stratum by broadband provider, Fibrus. The company is on target to connect 81,000 premises by June 2025, on time and within budget for the project.

The local company was awarded the Government contract in November 2020 to improve connectivity for premises unable to access broadband services of 30 Megabits per second (Mbps), in the most rural areas of Northern Ireland.

Industry disruptor, Fibrus, connected its first customer in Coalisland in March 2021, just six months after contract award and recently completed the Randalstown area earlier this year.

Counties Down and Tyrone currently have the highest number of connected premises, almost 28,000 and 24,000 respectively, with a focus on the last remaining area to connect, Templepatrick.

Dominic Kearns, co-founder and CEO of Fibrus, commented:

“This project has been a huge success for both ourselves and the Department in terms of the impact this is having on the rural homes and businesses that we are serving with new full fibre infrastructure.

“Rural communities are at the heart of our business and we’ve made a significant contribution to all areas we’ve brought our full fibre infrastructure to, through job creation, community donations, sponsorships and volunteer time.

“We were awarded this contract just two years after launching Fibrus. At the time we were best placed and most driven to deliver this project as quickly as possible for all those people in need of a reliable broadband service, regardless of where they live”

“Now, three and a half years into the project, we’re extremely proud of the speed and quality of our delivery of Project Stratum. With a year to go we’re well on track to complete our target of connecting more than 81,000 premises and levelling up access to full fibre broadband the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.”

Over the last number of years, part of the Fibrus success story has been creating a challenger brand to disrupt the local broadband market, one that consumers and businesses can trust to provide reliable and fast internet connectivity. To date the company has attracted over 80,000 customers which continues to grow month on month.

Shane Haslem, Chief Operating Officer at Fibrus said:

“When a customer receives our service and compares it to the last service they had from a provider using the old copper network, they can see the difference instantly. Because of this our brand is growing and people love the reliability and speed that a full fibre service gives them.”

Managed by the Department for the Economy, with £175m of British Government funding under the superfast programme, along with additional funding from DfE and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Project Stratum is the largest publicly funded telecommunications infrastructure project of its kind in Northern Ireland, put in place to level up Northern Ireland’s broadband access and connect underserved areas.

Conor Murphy, Minister for the Economy, commented:

“Project Stratum has transformed the connectivity prospects for premises without access to next generation infrastructure. Along with ongoing commercial investment, this intervention has reduced the digital divide between rural and urban areas and has helped improve regional balance in much-needed broadband availability.”

“I welcome the completion of the services delivered by Fibrus to eligible premises in the Randalstown area, and I look forward to seeing the completion of the remaining areas over the rest of the Project Stratum contract.”

The public subsidy combined with Fibrus’ investment brings the overall total investment in Project Stratum to £248M.

Fibrus People Spotlight April 2024 Q&A

  • Name:

Lee Clarke

  • Job title:

Field Sales Team Leader and Coach

  • Where are you from?

Maghera

  • What do you like to do in your free time?

Sports – football, golf or a good movie. There’s nothing like it to help you switch off.

  • What are you passionate about?

Tottenham Hotspur, although they’ve ruined many a weekend on me, the love I have for them is unrequited!

  • What’s something you saw recently that made you smile/laugh?

My Dad. He’s my hero! His health hasn’t been the greatest with Parkinson’s and dementia but when he makes a joke or I can make him laugh, honestly it makes my heart so happy.

  • How do you like to wind down from your day?

Spending time with my kids. I have two girls and they bring me so much joy.

  • What does your typical day in Fibrus look like?

That’s what makes it the best job in the world- there isn’t one!

  • What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re proud of?

There’s not many jobs out there that make singing on stage at the Empire Music Hall possible!

  • Talk about your career to date and how you got to the role you’re currently in.

I am with Fibrus just over two years, and through hard work and good decisions, I was promoted the Team Lead of an exceptional team. But before my time at Fibrus, I was working for a company with limited opportunities for development and growth. After leaving previous jobs with poor management teams, I count myself lucky that I now get to work with so many amazing ones – and I haven’t looked back since!

  • What’s your go-to productivity trick?

No matter what is asked of you, do it and give it everything.

  • What led you to this career?

A new and fresh challenge led me here, but fantastic managers have kept me here.

  • What motivates you at work?

Pride. I want to be the best at what I do – make good decisions and lead with example.

  • What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

I used to have peers describe my results as “lucky” until an amazing manager and good friend said to me, “The harder you work, the more luck you seem to have”.

  • What book, movie, music, etc. changed your outlook on life?

Superman has got the power to rob any bank or even take over the world, but he doesn’t. With the correct guidance and support from his adoptive parents, he gets an average job and makes an honest living and good decisions.

  • If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

We all have the ability to care more, but it’s a superpower to ask someone how they’re feeling if you see a slight change in someone’s behavioural pattern – talk to them!

  • What’s the top destination on your must-visit list?

Graceland! The home of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Aron Presley.

Can you help us find out more about the Cumbrian pioneers of women’s cricket?

The search is on to find out information about the Cumbrian cricketing trailblazers captured in a hundred year old picture.

The image of the Ulverston Ladies cricket team was captured in 1924, long before the surge in popularity of women’s sports today, at a time when attitudes were against them.

Last year Fibrus and Cumbria Cricket joined forces to boost women and girls’ cricket in the county and now they want to find out more about the amazing women in the photograph in the hope that it will further boost women’s cricket in the region.

Owain Oxenham, non-executive director, at Cumbria Cricket said: “We would love to know more about these women cricketers from one hundred years ago.

“Today, women’s cricket is finally getting the recognition it deserves and we are working hard to give women and girls in Cumbria the opportunities earlier generations didn’t enjoy.

“The photograph reminds us that there have always been talented sportswomen in the county, they are an inspiration for us all.”

Chris Collins, Head of Network Build and Maintenance, Cumbria, at Fibrus, said: “The photograph is really uplifting to see. We are supporting Cumbrian sports for women and girls, like the new Fibrus 100 girls cricket league which we have sponsored.

“I enjoyed attending the launch of the league and seeing how much the girl’s enjoyed their cricket and playing the team. It would be great to see if interest in this photo could give another boost to women’s cricket in Cumbria.”

The photo has been a talking point for players at Ulverston, including 12-year-old Milly Fletcher who plays for the club and the Southern Power team in the Fibrus 100 league.

“I love playing for the teams – I can’t wait for the new season to start.

“It’s interesting to see how popular cricket was for women in Ulverston 100 years ago,” she said.

One of the trailblazers, sat in the centre of the bottom row in the 1924 photograph, was team captain Mary Brooks.

Anne Millard, a keen sportswomen and current member of the Ulverston Comets ladies cricket team, is a former nurse and knew Mary from her time at Ulverston Hospital.

Mary’s daughter Shelley Hudson gave Anne a copy of the photograph in 1982 shortly before Anne and her colleagues won a hospital cricket tournament for women.

Anne, 68, said: “Shelley gave it to me because she knew we were sports mad. Mary was a patient of ours, which is how we got to know the family. She had been a senior nurse and a very clever theatre sister. She was wonderful.”

The photograph was taken two years before the national Women’s Cricket Association was founded as women pushed forward in the sport.

But at the time sports were considered the preserve of men and there was little to no funding or support.

However, last year, with England’s Lionesses already triumphant, history was made when the Women’s Ashes was staged at the same time as the men’s, capturing a mass audience.

And the first Cumbrian girls’ cricket league, the Fibrus 100, was launched by Cumbria Cricket. It is sponsored by Fibrus Broadband which is supporting community sports across the county including sponsoring Workington Town Rugby League Club’s first women’s team.

Cumbria Cricket also launched a new women’s softball cricket league last year.

In addition to the Ulverston Comets ladies team, Ulverston Cricket Club also has an all-girls team, the Rockets.

  • If you have any information about the women please contact Graeme Dodds, Women & Girls Pathway Lead at Cumbria Cricket [email protected]

We’re off to the races as Down Royal Racecourse launches new family fixture

Racegoers of all ages across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to attend Down Royal’s brand-new Fibrus Family Race Day taking place on Sunday 14th April 2024.

This partnership will see Fibrus secure title naming rights to this year’s new race meeting bringing the total number of fixtures at Down Royal in 2024 to fourteen.

With something for everyone, families will be able to enjoy a day of exciting National Hunt racing, combined with fantastic kids’ entertainment including bouncy castles, face painters, balloon modellers, a petting farm and so much more.

A first-time sponsor at Down Royal, Fibrus is an award-winning company first established in Northern Ireland and is on a mission to bring fibrefast Full Fibre Broadband to rural homes and businesses across NI & the UK.

Commenting on the sponsorship Dominic Kearns, CEO at Fibrus said: “Fibrus is delighted to be sponsoring the inaugural Fibrus Family Race Day at Down Royal.

“As well as being our introduction to the world of horse racing, this is a brand-new fixture for Down Royal and we’re thrilled to be a part of such an exciting partnership.

“We’re looking forward to seeing families come together and enjoy a day of excitement, laughter and cherished memories all while watching some fantastic horse racing.”

Kathryn Holland, Commercial Manager at Down Royal added: “We’re excited to inspire the next generation of horse-racing fans by encouraging people of all ages to attend our new family fixture. This is part of our wider strategy to safeguard the future of horse-racing in Northern Ireland.

“We want to showcase the vibrant atmosphere of our racecourse to all, therefore with general admission, children under 14 can attend for free with a ticket holding adult, offering great value for money.

 “We look forward to welcoming Fibrus to the racecourse this April, and we hope families from across the region can join us for this special race day.”

Gates for Down Royal’s Fibrus Family Race Day open at 12pm. For full details and tickets visit here.

Fibrus Sports grant benefits equestrian club for young people with disabilities

An equestrian centre that provides riding opportunities for people with disabilities has become the latest beneficiary of a donation from Fibrus, as part of their ‘Play It Forward’ community fund.

We established the fund last year, offering 50 grants of up to £1,000 for grassroots sports, with the aim of supporting local groups in the areas in which it operates.

Since April 2023, football, Gaelic games, rowing, rugby, hockey, athletics and cricket organisations in Northern Ireland and Cumbria have benefited from the fund as part of our ongoing expansion in these areas.

Clubs working with young people have used the sponsorship money in various ways, including to buy new kits and equipment, as well as to enhance existing facilities. It has also gone towards subsidising training fees.

RDA Causeway and Glens Riding Club, which offers recreational and therapeutic opportunities for young people with disabilities, received £900 for new riding boots.

Gail Wilson Downey, Chair of RDA Causeway and Glens, expressed her gratitude, noting the critical role the fund played in maintaining their standard services.

“We were absolutely delighted to have been accepted for ‘Play It Forward’ funding,” she said.

“We supply the boots for our riders and, as the health and safety regulations had recently changed, if it wasn’t for Fibrus, we would’ve had to have cancelled the rides due to the conditions of the old kit.

“This would have had a significant detrimental effect on our service users, some of whom come every week to train with us, so we are extremely grateful for this generous donation.”

In Northern Ireland, 29 grassroots sports clubs have so far benefitted from the investment, with over 20 more in Cumbria.

Linda McMillan, Chief People Officer at Fibrus, said the purpose of the fund was to support children’s sports projects and initiatives in local communities.

“Investing in our local communities is not just a responsibility, but a core value at Fibrus,” she said.

“Our ‘Play It Forward’ fund demonstrates this commitment, showing our belief in the power of grassroots initiatives.

“By supporting these endeavours, we’re not only enriching lives but also strengthening our society.

Linda added: “We believe in investing in the potential of local communities, and we’re proud to play a role in empowering communities to succeed.”

Fibrus had originally set aside £30k for the initiative but an additional £17k was added to the initial pot after applications exceeded expectations in Spring of 2023. The ‘Play it Forward’ fund will open for applications again later this year.

Girls rugby gets a boost from Fibrus broadband

Wigton Rugby Club is embracing the quiet revolution taking place in the world of rugby as more girls discover a love for the game.

It has been able to extend the reach of its teams and last year got a boost from our oversubscribed Play it Forward fund, which has helped dozens of grassroots sports teams in Cumbria.

Previously the juniors played in mismatched kits dating back a decade. Now they are stepping out with pride in new kits thanks to the £1,000 donation..

The England Rugby Association reports that women’s and girls’ rugby has seen an average yearly 12 per cent growth over the past decade – and this is being reflected in Wigton where numbers are on the up.

Wigton has five talented girls in its under sevens and under 10s teams, and a full women’s team with around 20-25 players – The Wigton Wildcats.

37-year-old Wigton lad and club director Ryan Dobson believes the shift in attitudes in the game is a positive development.

“It was very much a male-dominated sport when I started,” said Ryan. “But that’s all changing. We have mixed junior teams and a Ladies Senior Team for women aged 16 plus.

“As a father of two little girls I am so encouraged by these changes. Willow and Rowan are very young, just five and six, but they already love coming to the club to see their Daddy play – and if they want to give rugby a go one day, I’m all for it. Rowan can already catch, so I have high hopes for her.”

“It’s great when a company like Fibrus backs what we are doing. Getting new kits has really boosted the younger teams.”

The club is also at the heart of the local community offering activities including line dancing, hockey, squash, cricket, keep fit and football – not to mention the social evenings.

Connection and community are central to Fibrus’ Play it Forward Fund, which was launched in the spring of 2023 to support non-profit voluntary and community groups, charities and organisations that provide financial support to children’s sports projects in the local community.

Linda McMillan, Chief People Officer at Fibrus, said the purpose of the fund was to support children’s sports projects and initiatives in local communities and to encourage children to go outside, make friends and have fun.

“Investing in our local communities is not just a responsibility, but a core value at Fibrus,” she said.

“Our ‘Play It Forward’ fund demonstrates this commitment, showing our belief in the power of grassroots initiatives.

“By supporting these endeavours, we’re not only enriching lives but also strengthening our society.

Linda added: “We believe in investing in the potential of local communities, and we’re proud to play a role in empowering communities to succeed.”

Fibrus had originally set aside £30k for the initiative but an additional £17k was added to the initial pot after applications exceeded expectations in Spring of 2023. The ‘Play it Forward’ fund will open for applications again later this year.

Two year project to get Cumbria buzzing not buffering

Conservation work to support Cumbria’s bees and other pollinators is being helped by a partnership between Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Fibrus Broadband.

The Full Fibre Broadband company is supporting the work of Cumbria Wildlife Trust with a £150,000 contribution as part of one of their environmental initiatives in the county.

The work will mean that by 2025, through working with local communities and landowners, the partnership will have helped create or restore 15 valuable sites for pollinators, ensuring that they’re managed correctly and continue to be wildlife havens long into the future.

During the two-year project, Cumbria Wildlife Trust will also run community planting days, as well as pollinator identification and training sessions. In addition, 1,500 packs of native Cumbrian wildflower seeds will be given out across the county.

The first community planting day has already taken place at Town View Fields in Kendal, where 20 volunteers joined in with planting 1,200 plugs.

One of the volunteers, Liz Wright, has lived locally for 37 years and enjoyed getting involved. “We’re hoping to get a wildflower meadow and attract more insects into the area. It’s also a good way to get to know people in the area and a nice project for us to get involved with,” she said.

Rachel Bain, environmental and sustainability specialist for Fibrus, said: “At Fibrus, we take our responsibilities to the environment very seriously.  By providing hyperfast broadband we are reducing commuting, enabling local enterprises to develop and thrive, increasing access to education and essential services, and driving sustainable changes in the way people connect, work, live and play.

“Fibrus is committed to ensuring we have environmental sustainability at the core of our business. We are excited to be supporting Cumbria Wildlife Trust with delivery of this pollinator project which will restore valuable habitats, improve the natural environment and help in the fight against climate change. As well as engaging with the local community to support their pollinator journey’’

“In Cumbria Wildlife Trust, we have the ideal partner and we look forward to working closely with them over the coming years.”

With plans to invest a staggering £700 million, Fibrus remains focused on bringing full fibre broadband to homes and businesses in remote UK towns and villages that need it most. Last year, the UK government awarded Fibrus a £108 million contract to provide up to 60,000 rural premises across Cumbria with access to next generation connectivity. This investment forms part of Project Gigabit, the UK government’s £5 billion programme to enable hard-to-reach communities across the country to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband.

Tanya St.Pierre, Grassland and Pollinator Team Manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “Flower-rich grasslands were once common. Over the last 50 years the UK has lost 97 per cent of lowland meadows, partly through agricultural intensification, and only one per cent of our upland hay meadows remain. Meadows are valued for the plants they support which in turn provide habitats for a range of animal species, including brown hare, moss carder bee, marsh fritillary butterfly, curlew and lapwing.”

Tanya St.Pierre, continued: “Wildflower-rich grasslands are one of the best habitats for pollinators. They contain native plant species, which we know support a greater abundance and diversity of bees, butterflies and other pollinators, compared to non-native plants.

“Whatever the size and wherever the location, we love working with local communities and farmers in Cumbria, to create and restore wildflower-rich grasslands which directly help the pollinating species that depend on them. It’s a real bonus that our work not only benefits wildlife but brings these thriving habitats right into the heart of our communities for people to enjoy.”

Fibrus brings lightning-fast broadband to Workington

Nearly 12,000 homes and businesses across the town of Workington now have access to lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband, thanks to Fibrus. 

The telecoms provider has been working in Cumbria since 2021, bringing full-fibre optic cable all the way to premises to provide connection speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second. This is far superior to the speeds achieved with conventional copper phone networks. 

Of the 36,000 homes to be offered full-fibre connections across the county, a third are in Workington. 

Colin Hutchinson, chief financial officer for Fibrus, said: “We identified Workington as an area in need of enhanced broadband connections and prioritised the town accordingly. 

“We’ve been working hard to instal infrastructure, laying around 250 kilometres of cable in Workington alone. Full-fibre broadband is the mains electricity of the 21st century and it’s vital that it is widely available.” 

Alongside its commercial roll-out, Fibrus has started work to connect tens of thousands of people living and working in rural Cumbria to high-speed connectivity as part of a £108 million government contract.  

Project Gigabit is the government’s mission to bring lightning fast, reliable broadband to hard-to-reach communities across the UK. 

MP Mark Jenkinson praised Fibrus for focusing on Workington. 

He said: “Good broadband connections are vital, particularly for businesses that need fast connections to stay competitive. 

“I’m delighted with the work Fibrus has done to bring the benefits of full-fibre broadband to Workington and I’m proud that the Government’s Project Gigabit initiative will enable Fibrus to connect many rural parts of the constituency that would otherwise miss out.” 

Fibrus is still laying cable in Workington and also currently in Aspatria, Kendal and Penrith. 

It will start work in another 15 towns and villages in Cumbria in the first half of 2024 including Great Broughton, Cockermouth, Keswick, Distington, Whitehaven, St Bees, Windermere and Flookburgh. 

The company has hosted events in 11 communities to explain its work, responded to more than 300 enquiries and launched an apprentice training facility at Newton Rigg, Penrith, where 16 apprentices have completed training and another 74 will be trained by 2026. 

Fibrus is also providing £212,000 to support community projects over the life of the Project Gigabit contract. 

During 2023 it began a partnership with Workington Town’s, sponsoring both the mens’ and ladies’ teams who both play at the renamed Fibrus Community Stadium. 

It has sponsored the Fibrus 100 girls’ cricket league, provided a fund for grassroots boys’ and girls’ sports clubs and helped to tackle digital poverty with a £60,000 fund for community groups . 

Find out more about the Project Gigabit rollout at www.hyperfastgb.com, or check if you’re already connectable at www.fibrus.com. 

Fibrus brings lightning-fast broadband to Cumbria

More than 36,000 homes and businesses in Cumbria now have access to lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband, thanks to Fibrus. 

The telecoms provider has been working in the county since 2021, bringing full-fibre optic cable all the way to premises to provide connection speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second. This is far superior to the speeds achieved with conventional copper phone networks. 

Alongside its commercial roll-out, Fibrus has started work to connect tens of thousands of people living and working in rural Cumbria to high-speed connectivity as part of a £108 million government contract.  

Project Gigabit is the government’s mission to bring lightning fast, reliable broadband to hard-to-reach communities across the UK. 

Colin Hutchinson, chief financial officer for Fibrus, said: “We’ve made excellent progress in what is a challenging environment to build. 

“The sheer size of Cumbria presents challenges, as does the geology – we’ve had to drill through rock in some places – and with two National Parks and three designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we’ve had to take extra care to minimise the impact of our work on the environment. 

“It’s been particularly satisfying to start delivery on Project Gigabit, bringing full-fibre broadband to parts of the UK that might otherwise miss out on getting the digital connectivity they need.” 

He added: “Full-fibre broadband is the mains electricity of the 21st century and it’s vital that it is widely available. Fibrus will continue to address the digital imbalance in rural connectivity and we look forward to seeing more communities enjoying the benefits of our full-fibre network.” 

Fibrus is currently laying fibre in Kendal, Penrith, Workington and Aspatria. 

It will start work in another 15 towns and villages in the first half of 2024 including Windermere, Whitehaven, St Bees, Flookburgh, Great Broughton, Cockermouth, Distington and Keswick. 

The company has hosted events in 11 communities to explain its work, responded to more than 300 enquiries and launched an apprentice training facility at Newton Rigg, Penrith, where 16 apprentices have completed training and another 74 will be trained by 2026. 

Fibrus is also providing £212,000 to support community projects over the life of the Project Gigabit contract. 

It has sponsored the Fibrus 100 girls’ cricket league, provided a fund for grassroots boys’ and girls’ sports clubs and helped to tackle digital poverty with a £60,000 fund for community groups. 

Find out more about the Project Gigabit rollout at www.hyperfastgb.com, or check if you’re already connectable at www.fibrus.com. 

Workington Town reveal new away stripes

Workington Town Rugby League Club have unveiled a striking new design for their alternative kit for the new season in partnership with official shirt sponsors Fibrus Broadband.

The kit went on sale on Boxing Day, giving fans the chance to buy the shirt ahead of the new season which gets underway with a warm-up fixture on Sunday January 7 when the team travels to Widnes to face the Vikings.

The new blue and black design was created alongside Fibrus Broadband, using its colours in recognition of the partnership. The Full Fibre broadband company will have its name on the front of the alternative kit for the next two seasons, having also recently secured its place as the front of shirt sponsor for the main kit and the ladies’ team. The ground is also known as the Fibrus Community Stadium.

Graeme Peers, Director and Commercial Partnerships Manager at Workington Town RLFC said: “The new design is fresh and modern, and we’re thrilled to have Fibrus on board as we go into a new season, and a new era of lightning fast broadband in Workington.

“Our partnership with Fibrus over the next two seasons means both the Workington Town men’s and ladies’ teams will play with their logo at the Fibrus Community Stadium and as we travel to away matches.”

Chris Collins, Head of Network Build and Maintenance, Cumbria, at Fibrus, said: “The new shirt looks fantastic, and we are excited to see the players wearing our logo across both kits in the upcoming season.

“Workington Town Rugby Club is a wonderful community asset, and we are committed to playing our role in the community too, as we continue to build Full Fibre broadband infrastructure around Workington and across the county.”

Fibrus has further demonstrated its support for Cumbrian sport this year by launching its Play it Forward fund, which has been providing grants to nearly 20 Cumbrian grassroots sports clubs. It also sponsors the Fibrus 100, the first Cumbrian cricket league for girls. This investment sits alongside The Fibrus Community Fund, which has seen the company invest £60,000 this year to tackle digital poverty across Cumbria.