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Co Armagh petition calls for meaningful investment in rural broadband

A petition has been set up for people still struggling with inadequate rural broadband coverage in county Armagh.

The petition, set up locally by SDLP representatives Thomas O’Hanlon and Justin McNulty, is aimed at highlighting the need for investment where it is needed most.

Mr McNulty says local people are sick sore and tired of poor broadband provision and has called on BT and Stormont’s Department of the Economy to make real and meaningful investment in broadband provision in rural areas.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury it is a necessity and its high time BT and the Government got their act together and ensured connectivity for all our communities and not just those within eyeshot of Belfast,” he said.

“On a daily basis I and my colleagues are constantly contacted by local residents complaining about the lack of broadband in their area. Many are telling of how they see the BT van in their area every day and yet they are no closer to getting access to Broadband.”

He added: “I have held a number of meetings with representatives of the communications industry and indeed with Westminster and Council colleague’s as we try and lobby on this important rural issue from all fronts.

“We need to see a rapid and meaningful response, BT can no longer dodge this issue and the Department of the Economy must hold BT to account for their lack of actions.”

Colleague Thomas O’Hanlon continued: “Broadband or the lack of if it in many areas is probably one of the most common issues people raise with me as a councillor. Time and time again people see the BT Superfast Broadband van in their area and yet no improvement in service.

“Better still, some can see the ‘Green Cabinet’ from their living room window and still can’t get Broadband. What is really frustrating is the amount of campaigns by BT or Government telling them Superfast Broadband is available in their area, or the raft of announcements of additional investment in Broadband but when you ask when is it coming to me, you get ‘oh I don’t know.

“The Department of the Economy are currently compiling a list of addresses across the north which don’t have access to broadband at 30Mbps. We’re compiling a list to pass directly to the Department and to BT. People can drop an email to whatbroadbandpetition@gmail.com with your Name, Address, Post Code and Landline Telephone Number.

“At the same time, we’ve launched a petition calling BT and the NI Executive to get their act together and bring Broadband to rural communities like ours. This can be found at www.ipetitions.com/petition/demanding-better-rural-broadband. We need to come at this from all fronts if we are to make real progress on this once and for all.”

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