Rural areas ‘need share of broadband investment’

ANY decisions on the distribution of funding for enhanced broadband infrastructure across the North must take into account of the fact that the existing services are much worse in areas including Fermanagh and Omagh.
That’s the view of local councillors who are concerned that rural communities could lose out to urban areas when the extra financial aid is being distributed.
Their call came as a consultation aimed at identifying the areas with the worst broadband came to a close earlier this week.
At a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Independent councillor, Bernice Swift, said the investment has been secured specifically for rural communities.
“Superfast broadband is no good to hear. If we are serious about future proofing our broadband services, then we need ultra-fast broadband,” she said.
“We need to see some serious connectivity in this council area because at the moment one in five premises are without decent broadband.
“Rural areas need to be the priority, we cannot be forgotten about and there must be no shifting of the goalposts which would result in this money going to other areas where broadband is already more than adequate.”
Ulster Unionist councillor, Alex Baird, said that a suggestion to extend the consultation period by 14 days was indicative of the attitude to rural areas.
“If they cannot make a decision on the consultation, then the major decisions are going to be problematic,” he added.

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