Cautious welcome for broadband move

A CAUTIOUS welcome for the Ofcom ruling which could lead to greatly reduced prices of broadband in rural areas.

Cookstown District Council chairman Sean Clarek said it was a welcome ruling but warned that it may only apply where customers can access broadband through a telephone line.

Ofcom have published new guidelines which will see a reduction in the prices that BT Wholesale can charge orther service providers whre there is no competition - the majority of these will be in rural areas such as mid Ulster.

The amount in question will be 12 per cent below the rate of inflation and it should ocme into effect by mid August.

These new charge controls should narrow the difference between prices that consumers in rural and urban areas are paying for broadband services.

In rural areas, consumers often pay a higher price for a much lower speed.

Councillor Clarek said: “Where this is not the case customers will still be at the mercy of satelite provision or wireless provision. As we are only too aware neither of these systems are providing adequate cover and the costs in cases are totally prohibitive.

“What I would point out is that this highlights the reality that for residents and businesses throughout the region to have access to proper competitive Broadband the BT fibre optic network must be extended throughout all rural areas. Only then will everyone have equality of service and competition,” said the Sinn Fein councillor.