I do not propose to comment in detail in respect of a project in another jurisdiction. I understand, however, that the aim of Project Stratum is to improve broadband connectivity by extending Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband infrastructure to premises across Northern Ireland that cannot yet access such a service. I further understand that while a budget has been identified and a public process of engagement with industry is underway, that the detailed strategy and technical requirements have not yet been published.
Based on learning from Ireland’s NBP process, where the technology approach and project cost were developed through a very detailed engagement with industry in a competitive public procurement process, it would be premature to draw any comparison between the NBP and Project Stratum at this time.
Building rural broadband networks is complex and expensive, as we can see from other jurisdictions. For example, Scotland has recently awarded preferred bidder status to BT for Scottish Borders which comprises approximately 26,090 premises, with an estimated subsidy value of £133m which is around £5,000 per premises ex VAT.