Calls for reinstatement of broadband voucher scheme

The recent decision by the government to end its business broadband connection voucher scheme has been questioned by a council in Northern Ireland.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has voiced concern that the government is no longer offering assistance of up to £3,000 to cover the cost of the installation of superfast broadband. The funding that had been made available for the project has all been used.

66 companies Fermanagh and Omagh took advantage of the scheme, but more than 300 actually applied for help. Four group schemes applied for funding, representing more than 100 different companies; however, even though the applications had been made, approval had not been granted before the funds ran out.

The council is going to appeal for the reinstatement of the funding to help the businesses that were unable to benefit from the scheme. If its request is successful, it is hoped that the applications that had already been made can be approved.

Another scheme in Fermanagh is underway to improve broadband services to rural areas. The Fermanagh Rural Broadband Initiative, which is part of a scheme being offered in a number of areas of rural Northern Ireland and Scotland, is being run by Avanti and will introduce satellite technology. Two demonstrator sites will be located in Fermanagh, which will be in place until the end of March next year. Those who are interested can go along to find out more and figure out whether the new services can help them to access the broadband speeds they need.