South Down Sinn Féin MLA Emma Rogan called for areas with the worst provision such as South Down and rural areas in County Down to be prioritised with the £150 million investment into improving broadband coverage in the North.
The MLA was commenting after the Department of the Economy announced that they would be developing its plans for the investment in consultation with local parties and other stakeholders.
‘It should be obvious that areas which currently have the worst broad band should be prioritised. These primarily rural areas have the highest rate of homes and businesses which are unable to avail of super-fast broadband.’
‘Focusing on these areas is important, we must make sure that all areas have equal access to high-speed broadband. It should not be an issue if a home or business is located in an urban or rural area to be able to receive higher speed broadband.’
‘Local smaller businesses should also not be penalised with slower internet speed for locating in rural areas. This poor broadband speed is an issue many businesses in South Down are currently dealing with. This is an obstacle that is affecting South Downs growth economically across the constituency which currently has the second worsed broadband in the North of Ireland.’
“Prioritising these areas would meet the objective need, promote equality between urban and rural communities, and ensure regionally balanced economic growth.
Sinn Féin is also of the view that the money should be spent on fibre to the premise technology. This would give people high-quality broadband regardless of whether they live in an urban or a rural area”.
Confirming that her Party would be meeting the Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy to discuss the issues and make the case for the local area the South Down MLA said;
‘It is vital that such matters are fully and properly addressed, and that adequate funding is targeted at reducing such barriers to trade and investment in the area.
We intend to meet the Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy so that we can make this case directly to the department at an early stage.’