Works to improve broadband in rural county Armagh are behind schedule by as much as eight months, it has been claimed.
SDLP’s Westminster candidate Justin McNulty says that although £24.5million has been invested in a scheme across Northern Ireland to complete work by the end of this year, BT are still “a staggering eight months behind schedule”.
“This is an absolute disgrace and I want BT to assure us that this work will be completed on time,” said Mr McNulty.
He added: “BT secured the contract from the Government in February 2014 to provide Superfast Broadband to areas like rural Armagh and they are failing miserably.
“Broadband services are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity in almost every home and business and the constant delays in upgrading the service in this area is totally unacceptable.
“Time and time again, people are contacting our elected representatives expressing their deep frustration on the lack of progress. They have been told by BT that their area is to be upgraded and they will have access to Superfast Broadband.
“When they check out their individual postcode area, they are given a date when to expect the service to be upgraded. Work vans are up and down every road across South Armagh and new green cabinets are appearing with stickers claiming Superfast Broadband is now available however it is not.
“Broadband is such an important part of everyday life. Many people use the internet to do everything from banking to doing the weekly groceries. Our young people, from primary school upwards need broadband to be able to study and do their homework for school.
“The lack of basic broadband coverage is costing this economy jobs. Businesses are telling me it his hindering their growth. People who want to work from home, just can’t. The very serious consequences of poor broadband services is abundantly clear, it is costing jobs in our economy, and not just in rural areas. Newry City is a key economic hub on the Belfast – Dublin corridor and yet businesses there are experiencing real connectivity problems.
“BT and the Northern Ireland Executive need to get their act together. Their piecemeal approach to improving our broadband infrastructure is hindering economic growth and urgent action is needed to get their flagship programme back on track. I have written to BT, the Enterprise Minister and the Rural Development Minister seeking urgent action.”
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