Ballymena benefits with Openreach’s ‘Community Fibre Partnership’ scheme

Broadband SM Farm
Picture: Darren Kidd

Ballymena Business Centre is set to benefit from having access to next generation fibre technology, having successfully secured the roll out of ‘Fibre-to-the-Premises’ (FTTP) broadband to 52 business units located in the County Antrim facility thanks to a Government voucher scheme and Openreach’s ‘Community Fibre Partnership’ (CFP) scheme.

The CFP scheme aims to build a customised fibre solution to bring ultra-fast, ultra-reliable ‘full fibre’ broadband in communities that are not currently included in any private or publicly financed fibre rollout plans, by putting joint funding arrangements in place and advising people on grants they can access from local authorities or the Government.

Ballymena Business Centre is a Northern Ireland charity committed to promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship in the greater Ballymena area. It has a range of resources available for local firms to avail of to help progress growth.

Speaking about the scheme, Allen Irwin, Senior Funding Manager at Openreach, said: “As the engineering team that builds, maintains and manages the broadband network in Northern Ireland, we’re committed to delivering new, faster and more reliable broadband technology across the region.

“It is our ambition to drive Northern Ireland’s digital future ensuring the region is at the forefront of digital innovation, supporting the needs of both homes and businesses with a reliable and consistent service.

“We understand businesses need to remain competitive and have an edge against competitors, so we are working hard to deliver the best available technology for businesses here to compete in the local, national and global digital economy as they grow.

“We’re delighted to have been able to work with Ballymena Business Centre to bring a much better service to the facility.

“The new network allows individual business units order a broadband service which suits their individual needs from a host of providers.

“This allows them to choose a bandwidth level that suits their business requirements and budget limitations but the technology makes possible up to one gigabit (1,000mbps) speeds if required, allowing for flexibility of choice for tenants.

“Through the CFP, the centre was able to utilise Rural Gigabit Connectivity vouchers that are available from the Government.

“It is fantastic that we have been able to work together to find a solution that accommodates their speed and download demands so that 40 businesses, located at 52 units, that form part of the scheme can now avail of full fibre broadband at no additional cost.”

Stephen Scullion, Centre Manager of the Ballymena Business Centre, worked in partnership with Openreach to bring futureproof fibre broadband to the centre.

Stephen contacted Openreach to see what options were available under the Community Fibre Partnership scheme.

Stephen said: “As an enterprise agency, we’re committed to helping local companies start up and develop, as well as compete on the world stage.

“Installing high speed broadband capability provides the technology backbone which these businesses can depend on to compete and grow new local and export markets.

“I researched various options that were available to upgrade our broadband and then discovered the Community Fibre Partnership scheme through Openreach.

“All I had to do was engage the support of our community businesses, and with the help of Openreach through the CFP scheme, leverage Government support for the installation of full fibre technology into our business park, so all current and future businesses can now benefit from this upgrade.

“The process was quick and easy with a dedicated manager to lead on the project logistics and administration.

“The installation process was efficient and drama free, and we recently received word the installation was complete across all our business units and are given the green light to contact full fibre broadband providers. This allows our tenants to choose the broadband service that is right for them.”

There are currently eight communities in Northern Ireland that have benefitted from the CFP scheme with Openreach, including parts of Dundrod, Moy, Killyman, Markethill and Ballymena.

Meanwhile more than 260,000 homes and businesses in NI can order full fibre broadband service. Openreach plans to have half of premises enabled by end of March 2021.

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