Northern Ireland’s first Community Fibre Partnership set to turn broadband not spot into hot spot
Monday 12th March, 2018
Northern Ireland's first Community Fibre Partnership will provide access to ultrafast broadband to a primary school and more than fifty homes and business on the edge of Clonmore Village in Dungannon. It's hoped the new service will be available as early as June this year.
The Community Fibre Partnership scheme has been set up by Openreach to help communities which are not included in any private or publicly financed fibre rollout plans. This first co-funded deal in Northern Ireland includes financial support from Openreach, in addition to government funding made available through the Better Broadband Scheme, which supports homes and businesses which receive speeds below 2Mbps.
Clintyclay Primary School and residents living nearby on the Clonmore Road say they’re currently living in a broadband black spot with download speeds averaging around 0.5 Mbps. The Community Fibre Partnership will install ‘Fibre to the Premises’ (FTTP*) technology and make ultrafast speeds of up to 330 Mbps available from a number of broadband service providers. That’s nearly ten times the UK national average speed. Businesses will potentially have access to speeds of 1,000 Mbps.
Frank McManus, Head of NI Wholesale Sales and Marketing says: “This is fantastic news for this small community. It shows what can be achieved when people work together towards a common goal and we’re proud to play our part in finding broadband solutions for areas like this.
“This is Northern Ireland’s first Community Fibre Partnership but we already have at least fifteen others in the pipeline to bring faster internet access to areas not covered by any private or publicly funded plans for fibre rollout.
“We are committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible, working with government and rural communities like this one. Grants are available from BT and government and, where there is still a gap, we will work with the community to help secure the additional funding needed.”
BT offers grants of up to £30,000 to help towards the cost of a Community Fibre Partnership with Openreach, wherever the new infrastructure will serve a local registered school or learning establishment that currently has access to slow broadband speeds.
Gordon Symington became the Community Lead when he contacted BT last July. He says: “My daughter was studying for her A Level in Computer Science and had to go to the local hotel to log on and do her homework. Our internet access at home couldn’t cope with more than one person going online at a time.
“I contacted the Community Fibre Partnership team and discovered that our community of 50 or so homes was eligible for a BT grant. We also received government funding and didn’t need to look elsewhere for funds. I would recommend the scheme to other communities in the same position because it’s provided us with the solution we were looking for. It’s going to be a game changer.”
Fiona Hampsey is Principal of Clintyclay Primary School and hopes to have a new computer suite up and running for the new Autumn term. She says: “Right now, we can’t even stream a video without buffering and the children soon lose interest with all the stops and starts.
“We’re living in a digital world and our pupils haven’t had the same access to digital learning opportunities as children living in urban areas. Faster broadband speeds will offer us so many opportunities and change the way we teach.
“In addition to the computer suite, which is sitting ready to go, we have plans for e-twinning and building links with a school in Europe. Put simply: this Community Fibre Partnership will make a world of difference.”