Rural broadband ‘at the top of the Stormont agenda’

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
Politics
SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty says he has put rural broadband provision at the top of the Assembly agenda. broadband2The motion was brought forward by the SDLP and Justin McNulty highlighted the chronic lack of broadband provision in rural areas and called on the Minister for the Economy to step up efforts to remedy the deficiency between rural and urban broadband provision. He said, “In 2014, a Broadband Report ranked all 650 Westminster constituencies by the average speed of broadband. Belfast East and South were 7th and 8th respectively – but Newry and Armagh was ranked 448. 488 out of 650 constituencies. “Businesses have said clearly, the lack of broadband is holding them back, it’s costing jobs not just in rural areas but in the centre of Newry. Continued poor connectivity in rural areas represents a huge missed opportunity for economic development and this must be addressed as a matter of priority. “The failure to remedy this represents a willingness on the part of the Executive to leave these communities behind.
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May June 2016 updatedThe local MLA continued, “As the people of Crossmaglen, Derrynoose and Newtownhamilton know, the deficit in broadband provision is most acute in border areas where 42% of premises do not have access to the proposed Universal Service Obligation Speed of 10Mbit/s. Only 2% of premises in urban areas fall short of this requirement. “It is can be easy to dismiss these figures but these are real experiences that our people are dealing with day in, day out. Just last week one gentleman was told by BT he would never get broadband, that his kids would have to travel into Keady Library to do their homework. “In the chamber today the DUP attempted to wash their hands of this failure and I don’t blame them for trying. The efforts of successive DUP Economy Ministers to encourage the improvement of our communication network have been shambolic. McNulty added, “Now that they have supported our motion, we will be holding them to their commitment in the months ahead.”

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