Bringing Northern communities out of the digital darkness

Fibrus is bringing hyperfast full fibre broadband into previously underserved areas of Northern Ireland – and giving back to communities via grants and business tools as well

Dominic Kearns, chief executive, Fibrus: the firm is investing over £500 million to bring full fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses in towns and villages across Northern Ireland and Northern England

Fibrus is synonymous with hyperfast full fibre broadband.

The company has become inextricably linked to bringing this essential technology to areas of the North that were previously left to languish in digital darkness.

And, thanks to the vision of inspirational co-creators Conal Henry, chair, and Dominic Kearns, chief executive, Fibrus’ primary focus remains fixed on building this critical 21st-century infrastructure.

The revolution around the local telecoms landscape began when ex-Enet boss Henry and Kearns, former chief executive of b4b group, founded the firm in early 2019.

With extensive telecommunications industry experience and a wealth of entrepreneurial acumen, who better to have at the helm than the formidable Co Antrim duo? Both qualified accountants, the pair secured major backing from leading infrastructure investor Infracapital (M&G Investments) shortly after launch.

But finance is insignificant without talent, and that’s why the intrepid businessmen selected a strong senior leadership team of industry experts including Conor Harrison, chief delivery officer; Shane Haslem, chief operating officer; and Colin Hutchinson, chief financial officer, to steer the Fibrus ship.

Impressively, Fibrus blossomed during its Covid-affected childhood, grew exponentially, and now employs over 300 staff.

Indeed, the company is currently transforming the digital infrastructure in Britain, investing over £500 million to bring full fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses in towns and villages across Northern Ireland and Northern England. Already, 200,000 homes have been passed across Northern Ireland and Cumbria, with the broadband provider on target to pass 250,000 homes by March 2023.

One of its flagship initiatives has been Project Stratum, which hit a halfway point in September and means almost 47,000 rural premises can be connected to a full fibre broadband service, out of a total overall target of around 85,000.

Despite the demands of an extremely challenging rural network build that began in the middle of a global pandemic, Fibrus is ahead of schedule – and a reputable company of choice outside Northern Ireland.

The success of Project Stratum – a collaboration that’s part financed by the British government and the Northern Ireland Executive – has allowed Fibrus to expand into Britain and has already starting building in Cumbria.

Making a difference to local people’s lives remains firmly at the heart of everything Fibrus does – connecting communities digitally so that people can work from home.

Broadband, according to Dominic Kearns, “levels up” communities by giving people equal opportunities.

“Broadband allows you to retain a sense of community because if you have a decent broadband service you can live in a village, rear your family there, your kids can go to the same village school you did, but they’ll have the same opportunities as children sitting in Belfast or Dublin,” he said.

Fibrus also wants to give back to the communities in which it operates.

“We want to become the fabric of those towns, villages and rural areas,” Kearns said.

“If we’re asking people to buy services from us, then it’s important we give back to those communities.”

With that in mind, Fibrus works alongside the Community Foundation to address digital poverty, awarding thousands of pounds worth of grants for local groups and organisations to access digital technology.

It has also shown its commitment to small businesses by developing a new product – Business Broadband – to help them with the so-called cost-of-doing-business crisis, providing a sense of financial stability at a time where there is generally little certainty.

For details, see fibrus.com.