Calls for ‘common sense’ approach to broadband improvement scheme


THERE have been calls for a more “common sense” approach to the major rural broadband improvement scheme that is currently being rolled out by the Executive, with many Fermanagh homes in need of an upgrade being left out of the project.
Since the announcement of the postcodes in line for improvement under Project Stratum, Herald readers from various parts of the county have reported not being included in the project, despite having an unworkable service and, in some cases, despite their close neighbours being included. This may be because they are just over the official slow speed requirements, or because their own private providers have indicated planned upgrades some time in the future.
Now, local man Brendan McGullion has called on the Department of the Economy to take a more “common sense” and less bureaucratic approach to the project.
Mr McGullion lives in Monea, where Fibrus, the company that is delivering Project Stratum on behalf of the Department, is currently carrying out an upgrade. However, while they are running a new line from Monea Crossroads up the Boho Road, the upgrade will bypass Mr McGullion and several of his neighbours to connect to one singular home on an adjacent road.
The reason for this is because Mr McGullion’s and his neighbours’ homes have been deemed ineligible for the scheme. Not because they are over the minimum speed requirement to be included, with their homes receiving speeds of 20Mbps which is under the 30Mbps or less speed  
requirement, but because they have been scheduled for an upgrade by their private supplier some time next year.
However as Mr McGullion noted, the 20Mbps he is currently receiving on his old cooper line belies a range of other problems, such as internet lag and bandwidth issues. This has proven especially problematic in recent times, making remote working and studying extremely challenging for him and his neighbours.
“They are saying we’re on 20Mbps, but that’s irrelevant. That’s like saying to someone you’re on the motorway, but one lane is closed and there is an accident,” he said.
Mr McGullion questioned the logic of waiting until next year for his own provider to potentially provide an upgrade.
“I said to them, doing what you’re trying to do and the way you’re trying to do it is a waste of money. You couldn’t find a better way to waste money,” he said.
“They’re going to upgrade those who dropped off after my house, which is great, but then to not include us while you’re already passing us. It’s nonsensical.”

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