Fearon calls for transfer of telecommunications powers

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Friday, March 4th, 2016
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has welcomed the publication of the Ofcom Strategic Review of Digital Communications on the roll-out of broadband to every household and business. broadband2“With speeds of at least 10mbps and the intention of placing new obligations in future spectrum licences to improve rural mobile coverage this will be welcomed in rural areas such as south Armagh where there are still unacceptable gaps in broadband coverage,” she said. “The gaps in telecommunications coverage in rural areas present a major problem for citizens and for economic development. “The privatisation of telecommunications services has led to this market being run on the basis of corporate profits rather than provision of a public service. Providers have not made the required investment in rural areas where there is a smaller population base,” the local MLA insisted. “The fact we are reliant on Ofcom to enforce regulations makes us dependent on the British government to ensure that mobile phone and broadband providers comply with the legislation.
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TCH Feb 2016 advert“I have no faith the British government will impose overly onerous conditions on telecoms providers as demonstrated in its failure to progress universal broadband to date. “The awarding of 4G licences, which did not include conditions that providers had to deliver coverage to at least 98% of each postcode area, shows the lack of ambition by the British government. “This means providers can meet their obligations simply through investment in profitable larger population urban areas at the expense of the rural communities. Fearon added, “It is time therefore that powers over telecommunications should be transferred to Stormont, so local elected representatives can set telecoms policies which meet the needs of all the people here, urban and rural.”
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