Fast broadband is an 'essential utility' says Mid Ulster councillor

High speed broadband is every bit as essential as other utilities such as water or electricity, Mid Ulster councillor Sean McPeake has said.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 11:01 am
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 11:04 am

Councillor McPeake had a notice of motion unanimously adopted at the monthly meeting of the council noting the “strongly critical findings” of the NIAO Report into Broadband provision, and requesting any financial clawback due from BT should be re-directed into provision in rural areas.

The Carntogher representative said the Covid pandemic has shown the growing importance of being able to have adequate broadband speeds in order to communicate and manage our lives in ways that are viewed as the new ‘normal’ within most other regions.

“Whether it has been the increasing number of people who have had to work from home or for the large numbers of students needing good connectivity for home schooling and educational purposes, adequate broadband speeds are vitally important,” he continued.

Councillor Sean McPeake.
Councillor Sean McPeake.

“In recent times we have all welcomed the announcement of the £165m financial package made available for Project Stratum. This high speed broadband scheme has been lauded as the panacea needed for rural areas such as Mid-Ulster in order to achieve adequate broadband speeds which are readily available within most urban areas.

“However, in recent times many residents have been left disappointed on checking on-line with the Department of Economy’s ‘Project Stratum Availability Checker’ in that there are no plans for their premises to be included within this upcoming scheme.”

Councillor McPeake added since there are no additional broadband monies guaranteed for any additional broadband interventions, his motion related to “a possible opportunity to recover much of the monies required to plug the missing gaps in broadband provision.”

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