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Children can now benefit from online learning thanks to Openreach scheme

Community Fibre Partnership which brought Ultrafast Full Fibre Broadband to 90 Homes and Businesses near Loughgall now extended to Annahugh.

Keith Buchanan MLA is joined by Councillor Lavelle McIlwrath, Principal Kathryn Brown, student JP Donnelly and Openreach representatives to encourage residents in the Annahugh and Ballyhegan areas to sign up to a Community Fibre Partnership.

Nearly 90 homes and businesses in the small rural village of Loughgall, Co. Armagh have recently benefitted from Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) scheme which means the community can now access ultrafast Full Fibre broadband over the Openreach network.

Residents in the Ballymagerney Road area of Loughgall previously were experiencing slow broadband speeds, meaning making video calls or working from home had become increasingly difficult.

However, with the completion of Openreach’s ultrafast Full Fibre broadband build, the community can now access ultra-reliable, future-proof broadband making working, playing, studying, or steaming much easier.

Openreach’s CFP scheme aims to work with communities with broadband speeds of less than 100 Mpbs, who are not currently included in any private or publicly financed gigabit capable broadband rollout plans.

Openreach has a joint funding plan in place, which means it contributes some of the costs and the community pledges their Government Rural Broadband Gigabit Vouchers to cover the rest. There is no cost to residents.

Although speeds of up to 1000 Mbps are available, packages offering a 150 Mbps are a really popular choice for streaming, gaming and connecting to home schooling apps.

Due to the low speeds, the Ballymagerney Road area was eligible for the scheme and as enough premises pledged their Rural Gigabit Voucher, Openreach was able to upgrade the network to the ultra-reliable, future-proof broadband at no cost to the community.

Speaking about the scheme, Allen Irwin, Senior Funding Manager at Openreach said: “We’re delighted to have been able to work with residents and businesses. The 89 premises that form part of the scheme can now avail of ultrafast Full Fibre broadband through their Communications Provider.”

Pete Donnelly, an IT specialist who lives with his wife and two children in the area, contacted Openreach on behalf of the residents in the area and with the help of an Openreach liaison, spearheaded the project.

Pete said: “We live in a world where internet connectivity with decent broadband speed is no longer a luxury but now an essential. Previously our residents and businesses suffered paltry speeds of around 2.4 MB per second and on many evenings, this would drop to less than 1 Mbps.

“Now, with the successful implementation of the CFP project, we can avail of speeds up 1 Gbps per second, which has opened up completely new opportunities. Many residents can now work remotely from home and local businesses can now transact their business online. Those of us with children can now benefit from online learning where Zoom, Microsoft Teams & Google classroom now run seamlessly, and buffering is a thing of the past.

“I would encourage all rural communities who have poor internet speeds to get together and apply for the Gigabit Voucher Scheme. News of the Ballymagerney CFP project has already spread to a second project covering the neighbouring Annahugh and Ballyhegan area. This second CFP project includes the local St. Oliver Plunkett’s Primary School, and hopefully with enough business and residents’ uptake in the Gigabit Voucher Scheme, Openreach can supply this school with a 1 Gbps ultrafast Full Fibre broadband connection very soon.”

Commenting on the broadband update in Loughgall, Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA stated, “This is a fantastic development, and it does show what can be achieved through the Community Fibre Partnership scheme along with Openreach’s assistance and guidance. The speeds that residents will enjoy through this initiative is significant and the community in the area deserve great credit for taking such a project on and seeing it to completion.”

Residents in the Annahugh area have until the 14th March to join the scheme. Click this link to check your post code and register. Connect my community ( Act now and don’t miss out.

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