A ‘Titanic’ 100Mbps fibre investment earmarked for Belfast

12 Aug 2008

A massive 185-acre site in Belfast, that was home to dry docks used for the construction of immense ocean-going liners like the Titanic, is to once again house the transport networks of tomorrow following a decision to deploy a 100Mbps network there, which will boost business as well as entertainment for residential users.

The Titanic Quarter in central Belfast is currently undergoing a £5.5bn sterling (€7bn) urban mixed-use regeneration.

The area has been identified by the Urban Studies and Planning Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as one of a handful of world-class sites designated as ‘new century cities’.

All future residential occupants of the Titanic Quarter will have access to fully-fibred high-speed and high-quality telecoms, IP television and other innovative services.

“Our access network is designed to be futureproofed and to maximise the competitive choice of services for all occupants,” explained Mike Smith, chief executive of the Titanic Quarter.

The network will initially be able to support the delivery of services to households at speeds of 100Mbps in both directions, with gigabit capacities available for businesses.

Redstone has been granted exclusive rights to develop the advanced ‘fibre to the home’ infrastructure and telecoms firm Bytel has emerged as the first interconnect provider to provide backhaul services to the project.

The network will be openly available to all communications services providers on a wholesale basis and they will not be constrained by limitations on old generation copper networks.

“This network reflects our determination to compete at a global level,” explained Mike Graham, director of corporate real estate for the Titanic Quarter.

“We see the Titanic Quarter network as a model that can be replicated across the UK and we look forward to working with Redstone to develop further interest from the property sector and amongst local and regional authorities,” Graham added.

The initial phase of the Titanic quarter will include up to 5,000 residential units, a financial services centre boasting global bank Citi as its first occupant, a new campus for Belfast Metropolitan College serving 17,000 students, hotels and tourist attractions, the new HQ for the NI Public Records Office and a world-class creative media campus.

The Queen’s Island sites already house the 25-acre Northern Ireland Science Park, including a multi-user Innovation Centre, an electronic communications and IT research centre for Queen’s University Belfast and a purpose-built software development centre for Citi.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years