Will broadband money actually make a difference to rural communities: McNulty

Thursday, 20 July 2017

SDLP Assembly Member Justin McNulty has called for urgent clarity from the Secretary of State and the Department of the Economy on how the additional 150 Million for Ultra-Fast Broadband will be invested locally.

Mr McNulty said, "In the recent deal reached between the Conservative Party and the DUP there is, amongst other measures, an investment of 150 Million proposed for Ultra-Fast Broadband in Northern Ireland.

"Any additional investment in broadband is very much welcome, especially in rural border communities who are struggling to get any broadband connection at all.

"Whilst the recent announcement of 150M additional investment is welcome, we need to see details on where it will be spent and what it will actually deliver. We constantly get announcements on additional investment, but it never actually means anything to people in places like Poyntzpass, Granemore, Derrynoose, Cullyhanna or other areas in rural South Armagh. The BT van never leaves our roadsides but there are no improvements worth talking about and people are getting very frustrated.

"I have sought full details of what this additional investment will mean to places like Newry and Armagh. This announcement commits to 'Ultra- Fast Broadband' but doesn't define what it is. We are supposed to be rolling out 'Superfast Broadband,' so what is the difference between the two schemes? "I fear this announcement will see the further up-grading of the existing network and not see actual improvements to the areas of greatest need where families, farmers and businesses have a poor service at the minute. This would be completely unacceptable and would be a further example of what some people believe, that life in the North doesn't exist beyond Belfast or Lisburn.

Access to a high-quality fast broadband service is not a luxury, it is a necessity. People need access to Broadband for work, business, study and leisure. Businesses are telling me the lack of broadband is costing them money and impacting their competitiveness. Families are telling me children cannot complete their homework or study. Farmers are unable to complete their online forms. We need to see real improvement in rural broadband as a priority, and not just in business parks in Belfast."


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