Larne social enterprise Ledcom is hoping to finally clinch superfast broadband at its Willowbank base through the extension of a Stormont scheme.
The Rural Connection Vouchers Scheme has been extended by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Despite being one of Larne’s most prominent business parks, Ledcom has previously been unsuccessful in its bids to secure government funding to boost its broadband speed.
Chief Executive officer of Ledcom Ken Nelson told the Times that the business park, which has 15 tenant firms, is hoping that this programme will finally enable it to create the broadband infrastructure to enable its companies to grow and compete.
“We are applying to the scheme, getting superfast broadband has been a key priority for us for a number of years,” he said.
“We have had the help of local politicians and we hope we will get it this time.
“Raising the level of broadband is good for businesses who can expand and grow. A lack of broadband makes it difficult as businesses increasingly need as much broadband band with as possible.
“A lot of those at Willowbank are doing business all over the world and they need that connectivity for video conferencing and uploading or downloading PDFs.”
The latest funding was originally made available by the former Department for Agriculture and Rural Development to allow rural businesses to access connection vouchers to assist in the development of higher standard broadband connections.
This in turn was born out of the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) connection voucher scheme which had closed in October 2015 due to demand. The extended scheme will primarily target business parks who had applied to the DCMS scheme but missed out due to its closure.
News of the potential broadband boost was welcomed by councillors at a recent meeting.
“I hope it will attract further businesses and promote the expansion of the businesses that are there,” said Alderman Gregg McKeen.
Cllr Timothy Gaston asked if council was doing anything to identify areas of slow broadband speed in the borough.
A council officer told him that they were “on it.”
After the meeting, a council spokesperson revealed that the council is “supporting” the Department for the Economy’s consultation on broadband coverage, available at: www.economy-ni.gov.uk.