SDLP councillor and Assembly candidate Colin McGrath has said that there must be significant upgrades to rural broadband provision to ensure rural communities are on a par with their urban counterparts.
Commenting the SDLP councillor said: “Increasingly many facets of everyday life are undertaken online such as social media, banking and shopping.
“However, increasingly, government agencies are expecting matters to be undertaken online too such as application for rural grants, submission of reports and statistics and the massive bureaucracy expected by DARD and European bodies. But how can this be completed if areas don’t have proper broadband connections?” said Councillor McGrath.
“The capacity for broadband speed is often determined by a customer’s distance from the communications box - which is fine in urban areas where there is one every few streets feeding hundreds of homes but what of the rural roads and lanes where there may only be one house every half mile?
“There are now instances too where BT are not allowing existing rural customers access to increased speeds rather allowing them to remain connected to older slower connections and this seems totally unfair.
“If we are to see our rural communities develop, if we are to see our farming and small villages and hamlet communities sustained and grow then we must service them with adequate broadband speeds and allow them access to an even playing field.
“I have written to BT and asked for a review of some of their practices and will pursue the issue of rural broadband connections for our rural areas in the future,” added Councillor McGrath