BT to pilot new technology on Rathlin Island

Rathlin residents first in the UK and Ireland to trial new 
BT ‘wireless to the cabinet’ broadband technology 


BT has today announced a pilot of “wireless to the cabinet” technology, the first deployment of its kind in the UK and Ireland. The pilot will deliver high speed broadband to a number of premises on Rathlin from next month, with speeds of up to 80Mbps on the island for the first time. 

Until now, broadband speeds on Rathlin have been limited by the difficulty in providing a high speed link to the island. Working closely with colleagues at BT’s Research & Development facility at Adastral Park in Suffolk, BT in Northern Ireland is deploying a newly developed radio solution linking the Ballycastle exchange on the mainland with the Rathlin island exchange. This is then integrated into the next generation high speed fibre broadband architecture which provides a ‘fibre-like’ capacity directly to a street cabinet on Rathlin. 

Frank McManus, head of wholesale sales and services in BT said “We have been exploring innovative ways to deliver high speed broadband capability to Rathlin for some time, so we are very excited to announce the launch of this technology trial. This is a first for the UK and Ireland and will enable residents on the island to enjoy similar fibre broadband speeds as those available to businesses and households across Northern Ireland.” 

Jonathan Mitchell is a resident of Rathlin and runs his own software company, Mugginsoft. His wife Ann Henderson is an artist and relies upon the internet to conduct live video and interactive whiteboard art teaching with children from her island studio. Commenting on the pilot Jonathan said, “My wife and I both work and depend heavily on internet access to run our businesses. At the moment, we have very limited speeds with our home broadband service so we’re really looking forward to trialling the new technology to see the impact it will have on our day to day work processes and how much more efficient and adventurous we can become through high speed internet access.” 

BT has made significant direct investment in Northern Ireland’s fibre infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, as part of BT Group’s £2.5 billion fibre roll-out in the UK. In addition, BT also invested £30 million in its partnership with the Northern Ireland Government for the Next Generation Broadband Project, which BT rolled out on time and on budget for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. 

The Rathlin solution is also testament to BT’s on-going commitment to innovation. In 2012/13 alone, the company invested £544million in research and development across its global research and development hubs in the US, India and the UK, including its centre in Belfast. 

The initial pilot phase will be trialled by a number of premises on the island and will run for six months. If successful, the solution has the potential to offer high speed fibre broadband capability to the majority of premises on Rathlin. For more information on fibre broadband, availability, benefits and a list of providers, visit www.nibroadband.com. 


About the Next Generation Broadband project 
The Next Generation Broadband Project has seen BT invest close to £30 million in this initiative, with a further £16.5million coming from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) and the EU under the ERDF Competitiveness Programme of which £10.5million was invested in rural areas and £6million in urban areas. Also £1.5million has been invested from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) under the EU ERADF Rural Development Programme. This has attracted a further investment from DARD, DETI and BT totalling some £4 million.