Broadband speeds ‘inadequate’ during Lockdown for home working, schooling and businesses

Residents in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon areas are struggling to get adequate broadband speeds during the pandemic, says Sinn Fein.

Local Cllr Liam Mackle said increasing numbers of residents have complained about the service for home working, home schooling or basic socialising.

Cllr Mackle said small and medium sized businesses are also struggling to operate their businesses in rural areas due to poor broadband.

“Broadband availability has become a service utility which is equally as essential as water, electricity or any telecommunications,” he said, adding that he is regularly told by BT Openroach that thre are no upgrade works planned for these areas of low speed until the delivery of Project Stratum.

Cllr Liam MackleCllr Liam Mackle
Cllr Liam Mackle

“I appreciate that there have been almost 100k premises identified for increased upgrades under Project Stratum, though full delivery could take another 3-4 years which does not address present needs. It is important that the Department of Economy concludes the £165m procurement process and that improvements are targeted to those areas that currently have lowest speeds.

“As a representative for ABC Council on Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) I have been supportive of the group’s request for an NI Audit Office report to ensure future transparencies around the lack of competition for Broadband infrastructure in the north. In what ICBAN views as a tremendously positive development the NIAO have agreed to our request to commission a report.

“The report is being currently compiled and crucially includes areas such as the process used by BT for upgrading their own infrastructure, transparencies around cost and gain share, take-up/clawback when the numbers of Broadband users is greater than expected in a built up area,” said Cllr Mackle adding that an integral part of the NIAO process is gathering anecdotal evidence of the current challenges of home working/home schooling during the current ongoing health crisis. I would encourage anyone who is experiencing difficulties to email their experiences to [email protected]

A spokesperson for Openreach said: ““Openreach, the largest digital infrastructure provider in NI, is currently building the network that will bring ultrafast full fibre broadband to as many homes and business as possible right across NI, offering speeds of up to 1Gbps and a more consistent, reliable broadband service.

“Within the ABC council area 90% of premises can avail of a broadband service with speeds of 10 Mbps or more, and the area is included in our ultrafast full fibre build programme. As at October 2020, 53% of premises within the council area are able to access an ultrafast full fibre broadband service, and we continue to build at pace, committing to deliver full fibre broadband to 67% of premises by March 2021 and 75% of premises by March 2022.

“We’d encourage everyone to check if full fibre broadband is available at their address and to register their interest by visiting If your address is not included we also have schemes in place, such as our ‘Community Fibre Partnerships’, which can bring broadband to areas that are harder to reach.”



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