Chairman refutes claims that internet services have been ‘well invested in’

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COOKSTOWN Council’s chairman has criticised claims from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment that significant investment has been directed towards the improvement of broadband services in the area.

He and the council delegation pointed out to Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster that they feel there has been “negligible improvement” in the local internet service. He said Cookstown, by its nature as a town populated with numerous small businesses, relies heavily on speedy and consistent access to broadband.

Councillor Clarke said that a well-researched and documented case was put to the Minister and relevant DETI officials, highlighting the widespread problems with Broadband service. “These problems are particularly acute throughout particularly the rural areas where two thirds of the population reside and where almost 80 per cent of the district’s businesses are located,” he said.

“This manifests itself by making it impossible in the case of many businesses to use the internet. This leaves those businesses at a complete disadvantage to their competitors and totally restricts trade and development.”

He added that the negative effects of a poor internet connection are widespread.

“Where farmers are concerned DARD requires that many transactions are carried out online,” he said. “For home users access to online services is denied. Students are unable to use internet for study purposes and this leaves them at a great disadvantage with their peer group.”

The chairman remained adamant that he will continue to lobby on behalf of residents and businesspeople for an adequate broadband service.