RURAL Development Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today met with BT to discuss broadband provision in rural areas across the north.
Speaking after the meeting the Minister said: “Coming from a rural area myself, I am constantly reminded by rural dwellers of the importance of good communications and of the increasing reliance many place on telecoms in their day to day lives. This is why I have made it an early priority to champion the case for improved access to broadband in rural areas. My Department has recently invested £2.5million towards making improvements to broadband provision in rural areas. This funding was specifically targeted at rural areas that did not have broadband or were running at lower speeds and I am confident this will have a very positive impact on rural dwellers.
“Access to improved telecoms provides a key catalyst for rural businesses, communities, and a means of communication with the rest of the world for those isolated from urban centres.”
The Minister said that her meeting with BT was to be the first with a range of stakeholders with an interest in improving broadband access. She said: “I am interested to examine ways in which we can work to extend broadband coverage in liaison with the relevant Departments and providers, such as BT. It is my view that no rural dweller should be disadvantaged because of lack of access to broadband and I will continue to press for greater access in rural areas and will work proactively to ensure this.”