Armstrong: Rural areas lagging behind in growing digital divide

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has described a ‘growing digital divide’ as she urged the Economy Minister to take all opportunities to enhance broadband and mobile coverage in rural areas.

The MLA for Strangford was speaking during an Assembly debate, where she highlighted the ongoing problems of those living in rural areas – where access to the internet is hampered by low speeds.

Kellie Armstrong MLA said: “While the Department for the Economy continues to deliver the Northern Ireland Broadband Project – which has been a welcome initiative – the growing digital divide is leaving many in rural areas lagging behind.

“I must question how effective this project is in rural areas, especially as in my own area it seems it has been luck of the draw when it comes to which parts have been given access to increased internet speeds.

“The Minister must review the broadband coverage achieved to date and maximise the delivery to isolated areas. Statistics highlighting great achievements so far has little comfort to those without access.

“However this discussion might all be in vain as the Minister will most likely be unable to follow through on his promises in the event of vote to leave the EU on Thursday – an outcome the Minister is actively campaigning for. I must question if he has plans in place to follow through on his promises if leaving the EU becomes a reality.”

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