Lisburn computer firm in free mobile broadband offer in effort to tackle ‘digital poverty’


By Una Murphy

An IT computer company working with Belfast City Council to refurbish computers for charities and community organisations is also responding to “digital poverty” by providing mobile broadband to those who can’t afford to buy the service for their home.

Ken Callaghan from Lisburn-based firm Ignite IT has appealed for unwanted computers, which will be refurbished under the Belfast City Council’s Re-Use IT scheme and distributed by the company to council-nominated recipients.

Mr Callaghan, a former teacher, said: “Our containers are now empty again so if you have a laptop you no longer need, why not take it to the Ormeau Recycling Centre and we’ll refurbish it and see that it’s given a new home.”

He said that his company has also set up a scheme to help with broadband access to respond to “digital poverty”.

“It is not always the provision of computers that is the problem. Digital poverty is a reality in Northern Ireland and while people might save up to buy the one-off purchase of a tablet or laptop, the monthly recurring cost of broadband is more of a challenge as you have to budget that into your household expenses,” he said.

“We’re using our position as a UK Online Centre with the Good Things Foundation to provide free SIM cards providing six months free phone calls, text messages and 20GB of data per month. As this is to promote the use of the internet, the only condition is that you don’t have broadband at home. Simply contact us at Ignite IT and we’ll set things up. SIM cards are with Vodafone and O2.

“For organisations who support those in the community who don’t have a smartphone, we can apply to have one provided complete with the SIM card installed. This must be done through a community group or support group.”

Mr Callaghan said that computers refurbished by his company have gone to community projects, including the Belfast Romanian School.

“Simply bring your old laptop or tablet to the Ormeau Recycling Centre, Park Road (just off the Ormeau Road) and we’ll be pleased to delete all data, refurbish it and give it free of charge to a community initiative in the Belfast area. Great for the environment and great for digital inclusion.”

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has found that 29 percent of UK households reported an affordability issue with their communication service in the last month. The organisation stated that 11 percent of parents of primary school children and three percent of secondary school students – nearly two million children – do not have access to a digital device at home.

To donate a laptop or tablet for refurbishment, Belfast City Council has provided a secure locker at the recycling centre. Open a drawer in the locker and take a padded envelope and put the device and cable inside. Complete a form if you want information on whether the device has been reused or recycled. The devices should be less than five years old and switch on, have an uncracked screen and casing and an intact battery.

  • Main image above: Romanian School receiving laptop from Ignite IT technician Jack Agnew
  • Ignite IT – (phone number – 08000 488 638)

• More information on Digital Exclusion can be found in the edition of VIEW magazine with guest editor Patricia Donald from Advice NI, click this link: