Beggs raises Enterprise and Business Park access to Superfast Broadband with DETI Minister

Ulster Unionist Party East Antrim representative Mr Roy Beggs MLA has asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment “what action she has taken to ensure that all enterprise and business parks have access to high-speed fibre-optic broadband?”

The Minister responded by stating “My Department has just awarded a contract to BT for a new project under the UK superfast roll-out programme, which will further extend access to superfast broadband across Northern Ireland by 2017. The majority of enterprise and business parks in Northern Ireland of which my Department is aware already have access to superfast broadband services, but there remains some in areas that do not. I have indicated my desire that business parks be prioritised under this new service. Under the SuperConnected Cities programme, which is being led by the UK Government, business premises, including those in business parks in Belfast and Londonderry, are eligible to apply for vouchers with a value of up to £3,000 to cover the cost of high-speed broadband installation. That programme is now being extended to include other areas. That presents an opportunity for our new super-councils to apply for a voucher scheme similar to those that exist in the Belfast and Londonderry council areas.”

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs responded saying, “I am aware that, in other parts of the UK where there has been under-provision of superfast broadband, Openreach has facilitated local communities where it has not introduced that service, because of, it says, economic reasons. Has the Minister been in discussion with BT Openreach so that that type of flexible facility will be available to local communities and businesses, which may not be included in the scheme that she mentioned?”

The Minister responded to the UUP man by adding “I just mentioned two schemes. The first is the UK superfast roll-out programme, and the second is the SuperConnected Cities programme. I think that the super-councils should look at the second programme in particular. It was initially rolled out in Belfast, then it was extended to our second city, and now it is going to be available across Northern Ireland. Given that the super-councils will have new powers in April, they should look very closely at doing something together on those voucher schemes. It is a great opportunity to try to infill what has not been filled to date.”

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