Speaking at Stormont at the launch of a report into the economic benefits of investing in ultrafast Broadband in Rural areas Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said: “Rural areas are at present disadvantaged in terms of high speed Broadband provision relative to urban areas and this report identifies that fact”.
He added: “In this technological age, Broadband is a key utility regardless of where you live. It is clear economically, socially and in terms of quality of life that this is the case.
“I’m sure every MLA that represents a rural area could talk at length about dealing with constituents who run SME’s and who have had to relocate their business or halt investment and growth as a result of inadequate BB.
“We could talk of contact with farmers who can’t fill in their forms online, tourist providers who can’t take bookings online, employees who can’t work from home like some of his or her colleagues, the housewife with no transport and who can’t do her shopping online, or the university students or school children who can’t do all their homework or study properly all because of their BB provision.
“Not to mention the raft of social contact between family and friends or many other aspects of modern day living that are greatly enhanced with use of the internet.
“So even without this report we in Sinn Féin have been calling for this inequality to be reversed and for any much needed future investment to prioritise rural areas.
“This report will help this call. It has obviously put an awful lot of meat on the potential economic and other benefits that will come about as a result of investment in rural areas.
“It has identified a clear value for money principle and makes a strong case for where any future investment should take place.
“We in Sinn Féin want to see maximum investment and hope that any government contribution is added to substantially from within the private sector.
“We want to see also the maximum amount of benefit too from any investment in terms of the numbers of properties reached in a future rollout.
“Prioritising rural areas would meet objective need, promote equality between urban and rural communities, and ensure regionally balanced economic growth and I commend this report and its conclusions,” said McGuigan.