Rural internet access a ‘major milestone’

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president, David Brown, has said that broadband provider Fibrus’ £165 million deal to improve rural internet access is a ‘major milestone’.

“The confirmation by Economy Minister Diane Dodds that Fibrus have secured a new contract worth £165million to improve rural internet connectivity in Northern Ireland, is a major milestone,” he said.

“The UFU have lobbied continuously to gain better broadband on behalf of our members as a large proportion live in rural areas and are seriously disadvantaged by a poor or non-existent broadband service.

“This became more evident during lockdown as the need for a strong and reliable broadband connection increased with many becoming dependent on it to stay connected with others, for work and educational purposes, and to complete necessary application processes that were transferred to a digital format.

“Not to mention the daily running of farm businesses as more essential agriculture activities went online including livestock marts.

“The rural broadband project, which has been named Project Stratum, has the potential to improve daily life for thousands of rural residents across the country providing them with access to full-fibre broadband.

“We look forward to Project Stratum being processed so our members can benefit as soon as possible,” said Mr Brown.

Meanwhile, the broadband investment contract has been welcomed by SDLP economy spokesperson Sinead McLaughlin, who is also deputy chair of Stormont’s economy committee.

She said: “Achieving comprehensive, fast broadband for the whole of Northern Ireland is absolutely essential for the future of our economy.

“This was true even before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is even more true given the extent of home working currently taking place.

“Faster broadband is a core element of the SDLP’s economic recovery programme – investing in our key infrastructure creates jobs as well as opportunities.

“I congratulate Fibrus on winning the contract and I urge Fibrus and the Department for the Economy to make ultrafast progress on the delivery of the fastest possible broadband.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.