Sinn Fein MLA for South Armagh, Megan Fearon held meetings on Wednesday 4th October with Ofcom, the communications regulator, and the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) to discuss the roll out of broadband provision in rural areas and potential funding to bring it to fruition.
Ofcom regulates telecoms and networks throughout the North and states that "the telecoms network across Northern Ireland has been upgraded in recent years so that broadband via VDSL is available to most premises. However, an issue with VDSL is that speeds slow down over the length of the copper – and a long copper line between cabinet and premise can mean that speeds can be much lower than the superfast speeds typically associated with fibre connections."
Megan Fearon pointed out, "many households in rural areas have not benefited from any upgrades in recent years. Business owners, community centres and families in rural areas like South Armagh are in a terrible predicament. They experience extremely slow or non-existent broadband speeds, with no access to the superfast broadband service enjoyed by residents in other more urban areas. It is true that many business people travel from South Armagh to Newry library to conduct vital daily business online by using the broadband services provided by the library. This is not sustainable for any business owner and simply cannot continue. There is an urgent and dire need to dramatically improve broadband performance in rural areas."
"I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that work commences immediately to formulate and implement an immediate and comprehensive plan, that will see all premises have access to a high quality broadband service with acceptable speeds, regardless of where you live or do business."