‘Fibre’ funding for Councils

Mid & East Antrim Council is among 10 local authorities in Northern Ireland which are to receive £15m in funding to further boost fibre availability across the province.

The funding comes from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through its Local Full Fibre Networks Programme (LFFN).

Since June 2018, Northern Ireland councils have come to together to form the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium (FFNI). The Consortium, which is hosted by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, is comprised of the 10 councils outside of Belfast. The Consortium will implement an exciting new collaborative programme to drive greater investment in fibre and digital infrastructure across the region. Together the Consortium developed a bid for £15m of LFFN funding from DCMS. This substantial funding award will be used to deliver full fibre to approximately 880 public sector sites, under the Public-Sector Anchor Tenancy model, by March 2021. The project will enable Councils to significantly develop their ability to deliver services and improve access for communities and residents.

Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy, said: “Strong connectivity is vital to economic growth and is at the heart of our plans to grow our economy in Mid and East Antrim. As our City Deal plans demonstrate, digital innovation is key to our blueprint to boost our economy, increase jobs and secure investment in Mid and East Antrim.

“For example, the former St Patrick’s barracks site, situated in Ballymena, has been earmarked as the location for multimillion pound next-generation science park, designed to arm local people with the skills to compete on a global stage as digital innovators and entrepreneurs and will be created through £26m set aside for the project through Belfast Region City Deal.

“The LFFN will greatly enhance our economic ecosystem in Mid and East Antrim and further strengthen our commitment to growing our economy.”

Minister for Digital Margot James said: “This £15 million boost for gigabit speeds in Northern Ireland will benefit homes and businesses across the country and I congratulate the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium in its successful bid.”