Funding for rural broadband solutions announced
07 July 2011
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced a further £500,000 of funding to support broadband technology trials and provision of access to high speed commercial services in rural areas.
The Minister announced that a sixth call for project applications opened 4 July 2011, under the £1.9million Northern Ireland Broadband Fund, which is co-financed under the European Regional Development Fund Sustainable Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013.
Arlene Foster said: “One of the key objectives of the Broadband Fund is to encourage businesses and organisations to bring forward proposals through which new or emerging technologies can enable broadband services to be delivered to remote rural locations across Northern Ireland. Since its launch in August 2008, my Department has committed £890,000 under the Fund and we have already completed seven projects.
“Bringing next generation, high speed broadband to remote rural areas continues to be a challenge. However, while this is not unique to Northern Ireland, we must continue to invest to ensure we exploit new technologies that enable our infrastructure to fully support the economy.
“Telecommunications, and in particular broadband, remain a priority and the delivery of widespread access to very high bandwidth services is firmly on the EU and national agendas.”
Announcing the sixth call, the Minister added: “We hope to see a vibrant range of proposals which reflect a number of technologies. In line with UK national strategy, we would be particularly keen for proposals that clearly demonstrate an engagement with local communities to both identify specific rural areas where access to broadband has been a concern and secure support at local level for the solutions proposed.
“While we remain ‘technology neutral’, our ambition must be to support proposals which deliver very high specification services which can be replicated across the region, are scalable and are on a par with the very best services available in the major cities.
“With funding of up to 35% of total eligible project costs available, the Fund offers a financial incentive to applicants to meet these challenges.”
Details on the Broadband Fund are available by request, telephone 028 9052 9220. Applications must be received by 3pm, Friday 12 August 2011.