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Government officials coming to Co Armagh to address broadband woes

Stormont officials tasked with overseeing the rollout of superfast broadband across Northern Ireland will be put in the hot seat next month in Co Armagh.

Officers from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have been working on a number of initiatives aimed at tackling the seemingly never-ending story of poor broadband coverage.

It is a situation which has affected mainly rural parts of the borough.

And now the last in a series of UK Government-funded projects is underway.

As part of this, officials in the Telecoms Unit at the Department for the Economy will be meeting with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in October.

In Northern Ireland, it is the Economy Department which now takes responsibility for the contracts with BT for the installation of the broadband infrastructure.

BT is currently rolling out a contract – Northern Ireland Broadband Improvement Project (NIBIP) – with £19.3 million of public funds.

And the communications giant has been awarded another £14 million to kickstart the ‘Superfast Rollout Programme’, which is due to be completed before the end of 2017.

Councillors in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council will have the chance to listen to the officials explain the implications of the superfast rollout for the borough.

They will also have the chance to quiz them on local concerns and get answers to the questions which the public are asking.

Meanwhile, a report – currently underway by IBUB Communications on rural broadband – will also come before council committee next month.

As a pilot project, they are currently investigating the facts and figures regarding poor coverage specifically in the Blackwatertown, Cladymilltown, Donaghcloney and Ednego and Kimacrew areas.

The exercise – which saw a survey sent to 1300 households – will also propose “effective solutions” to the issues as well as the costs in seeing them through.

So far over 300 have responded and council has been told in highlights the “importance of this issue” to local residents.

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