Sugden calls for better broadband for rural areas

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Claire Sugden MLA for East Londonderry has called for more broadband provision in rural areas.

The MLA said: “I am increasingly concerned with the lack of high speed broadband provision in rural areas of my constituency, and have been tabling questions to the Minister about this issue.

“More people are using the internet to access financial services, commodities and communication. In isolated rural areas high speed broadband provision is vital in providing these services, particularly for older people and those who cannot regularly travel to urban centres.

“I have heard from many in my constituency of poor, yet expensive, internet access. Many are concerned that high speed broadband provision will become like mobile phone access in rural areas; patchy and poor in quality.

“In answers to my parliamentary questions, the Minister states that broadband services had been improved to 17,500 premises through the Northern Ireland Broadband Improvement Project in 2014. She also intended to identify a supplier for the Superfast Roll-out Programme Phase 2 in Northern Ireland by end of January. I hope this will increase broadband provision in many rural areas.

“High speed broadband allows rural areas to communicate in new ways and become part of the global community. We must not create a scenario where there is digital exclusion. I look forward to working with the Minister to make sure this doesn’t happen.”