Broadband coverage in rural areas ‘disgraceful’ says Wilson

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East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has described as “disgraceful” the state of broadband coverage in Northern Ireland especially in rural areas.

In a statement, Mr. Wilson said: “In rural areas, one quarter of homes do not have access to broadband speeds that are required to meet a typical household’s digital needs.

“This means that over 59,000 homes in rural areas are without this essential function.

“Many of those households will be farmers who now require broadband in order to fill in a plethora of forms from the Department of Agriculture and many of them will be small rural businesses who find that they simply cannot compete, or in some cases operate at all, because they do not have this basic service.”

“Every week, I am contacted by frustrated constituents who are sick and tired of excuses being made by BT as to why they cannot be given a broadband service.”

Meanwhile, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was set to consider the outcome of a recent broadband review.

Mr. Wilson continued: “In the Digital Economy Bill, the Government plans to introduce a universal broadband service and this is something which I and my colleagues have been supporting in the House of Commons.

“It would ensure every home and small business has the right to request a decent affordable broadband connection of 10 Mbit/s or above.

“It is important that this Bill does get through Parliament and that the Government holds BT to the commitment to provide such a service.

“Ironically, whilst thousands of homes are without any broadband coverage at all, BT continues to invest in superfast broadband which is now available to eight out of ten homes in Northern Ireland.

“Whilst I understand the importance of these packages to households, nevertheless it is still my view that BT should be giving greater priority to provide a service where there is none at present.

“If we are to become the super-efficient and competitive economy which the Prime Minster wants us to be in preparation for leaving the EU and becoming a global economy, then digital services are an important part of the infrastructure that must be developed.”