Fermanagh students highlight the benefits of fibre broadband

Fermanagh, Thursday 13th June: Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Investment Arlene Foster was first to congratulate ten year old Kechul Strathie from St. Mary’s Killesher Primary School, Derrylester today, after she was chosen as one of three overall winners in the NI Broadband ‘Superfast Futures’ competition. 

Organised by BT, the competition challenged students in twenty-nine Fermanagh primary schools to illustrate how fibre broadband can help make a difference in the world through a painting or drawing. 

Of the 250 entries submitted there were three overall winners and seven runner-up places in the competition. Eleven year old Emily Braddick from Kesh Primary School, and eleven year old Fergal Quinn from Holy Trinity Primary School, both in Enniskillen, joined Kechul in the top slot. 

Kechul’s entry illustrated how superfast broadband offers a ‘rainbow of opportunities’ including faster searching, quicker downloads and better communication with family and friends, while Fergal’s drawing illustrated how the internet has evolved over the years. In his drawing he predicts a future of broadband enabled TV’s, wi-fi laptops for all school children, online libraries and wireless recharge for devices. Emily’s drawing took a specific look at how broadband can help the homeless in the community through wide reaching online fundraising and awareness campaigns. 

Commenting on the competition, Arlene Foster said, “I would like to congratulate each and every student in Fermanagh who participated in the ‘Superfast Futures’ competition. It is particularly encouraging to see the interest that our young people have in technology, as it is their imagination that will drive the creation of the innovative products and services of the future. 

“As a result of investments by the Executive and BT more people across Northern Ireland including Fermanagh have access to the high speed fibre broadband services. I am also bringing forward further telecoms projects to see how the telecoms industry can extend services further. This will bring opportunities for future economic growth.” 

Frank McManus, head of wholesale sales and services, BT, said, “The quantity and quality of entries submitted to the ‘Superfast Futures’ competition was incredible and I would like to congratulate all involved. Northern Ireland is in the privileged position of having leading-edge fibre broadband infrastructure and these young students have done an excellent job of explaining why it should be embraced and exploited to its full capacity.” 

BT’s significant investment in infrastructure as part of both its £2.5 billion fibre roll-out plan in the UK and its partnership with the Northern Ireland government for the Next Generation Broadband Project means that today, 90% of premises in Northern Ireland are connected to a fibre-enabled street cabinet. A recent study on the potential economic impact of fibre broadband by consulting firm Regeneris revealed that an additional £750 million could be contributed to the Northern Ireland economy within the next five years, through the take up and use of fibre broadband by businesses in the region. 

The fibre broadband network is open access enabling other internet service providers to use the network and provide competitive and innovative services to their customers. Currently 24 internet service providers are using the network, delivering download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. 

Each winning student was presented with a certificate of achievement, and an array of prizes including iPod Shuffle and iTunes vouchers on the day. In addition, all winning and runner up entries will be uploaded to the NI Broadband website. To view the entries or to find out more information on fibre broadband, its availability, benefits and a full list of providers, visit www.nibroadband.com