CEO of Belfast based B4B Group, Dominic Kearns, has said the Government must use the £150m agreed between the Conservative government and the DUP in their confidence and supply deal, to ensure the correct investment environment is created to see the maximum benefit for our economy and competitiveness as a region.
“We must insure that we create an environment that attracts the most market investment possible for the region. The broadband infrastructure market is changing so much so that investors are switching focus back to the sector in the hope of returns in the longer term.
Effectively investors see this as a new telecoms infrastructure which will future proof the sector for as long as 25 years. With the reliance on high speed connectivity for both the consumer and business, the battle for market share is going to be interesting.”
Operators are now investing in full fibre infrastructure, a change that will see the replacement of the existing copper based services. The UK and Irish market has seen an increase in operators building new fibre infrastructure in the hope of catching up with European counterparts.
“Our coverage of fibre pales in significance to some of our European counterparts. This £150m of funding is a massive step in the right direction, but I would like to see a plan to connect every property in Northern Ireland to future-proofed, full fibre broadband as a result of this stimulus.
In addition to using the budget wisely, we need Government locally to continue to reform and remove barriers to broadband rollout to ensure that Northern Ireland remains well connected and able to compete in a global digital economy.
Other devolved regions are currently in the process of passing legalisation to allow for fibre tax relief in the short term and if we want to attract the same investments we need to ensue this replicated here.
We would also be concerned around the prospect of having to spend this amount of money within 2 years. To scale for a project of this size in Northern Ireland it will require our industry to plan and train resources required to deliver it. Operationally it is widely accepted the project could take up to 5 years to deliver.”