Rural broadband scheme launched across borough

Deputy Mayor, Cllr John Blair, launches the Rural Superfast Broadband Scheme with Stephen Frith (BDUK), Cllr Paul Michael, Simon Barrett (Avanti Communications), Cllr Roisin Lynch, Cllr Annemarie Logue, Cllr Matthew Magill and Ald Thomas Burns. INNT 04-801CON
Deputy Mayor, Cllr John Blair, launches the Rural Superfast Broadband Scheme with Stephen Frith (BDUK), Cllr Paul Michael, Simon Barrett (Avanti Communications), Cllr Roisin Lynch, Cllr Annemarie Logue, Cllr Matthew Magill and Ald Thomas Burns. INNT 04-801CON

A new scheme aimed at boosting broadband speeds in rural areas has been launched in the Antrim and Newtownabbey borough.

The council is working with Avanti Communications to promote the initiative, which is being trialled in Co Antrim and Co Fermanagh.

The scheme aims to improve broadband speeds for homes and businesses in rural areas, as well as in areas of poor connectivity.

The Rural Superfast Broadband Scheme is also available to community and voluntary organisations with slow or no broadband.

Speaking at the launch of the new scheme at Crumlin Leisure Centre, Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr John Blair welcomed the trial in the region.

He said: “I am pleased our borough has been chosen to be part of this project, which is offering a number of subsidised satellite broadband installations and packages to households.

“Poor broadband speeds can often be an issue for people and businesses in rural areas. Satellite broadband offers a cost effective alternative to farmers, agricultural businesses and people living in rural locations to improve their broadband speeds.”

The news has also been welcomed by Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell.

There will be a maximum of 1,000 subsidised satellite broadband installations and packages available to households and businesses across the pilot area.

The scheme is set to run until Thursday, March 31. Interested parties are being urged to go to a trial demonstration at Sixmile Leisure Centre in Ballyclare to experience the faster broadband speeds that are available. A date for the event has yet to be announced.

The President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade, David Reade, is the owner of a rural business on the outskirts of Ballyclare. He has experienced problems with poor broadband connections and speed in the past. Commenting on the new scheme, he said: “Unfortunately I have extensive personal experience on the subject of broadband issues in a rural area. Provision of good quality rural broadband is a major issue and any activity to resolve this has to be welcomed. There are a number of technologies and providers available and I would encourage people to shop around.”

For further information and to check eligibility please visit www.better-broadband.co.uk/antrim or contact one of the following registered broadband service providers: Europasat - 0808 252 0228 www.europasat.com, www.satellitesolutionsworldwide.com or Avonline Broadband - 0808 301 5366 www.avonlinebroadband.com.