Local councillors call for better rural broadband in Northern Ireland header image

The need for improved rural broadband services in Northern Ireland has once again been emphasised by local government officials representing some of the country's worst-affected areas.

Councillors from Sinn Fein have called for better internet access to be extended to outlying areas such as North Antrim, where consumers and businesses alike are struggling to connect online at speeds that are fit for purpose in the data-rich modern era, reports the Ballymena Times.

Local MLA Daithi McKay said he will be speaking to the country's enterprise minister to push for equal provision of high-speed broadband services across the nation, regardless of geographical location.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Glenravel councillor Paul Maguire said he is seeking ways to accelerate the upgrading of broadband speeds and mobile phone coverage in the Braid area, following requests by local residents.

Specifically, he has asked for the Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) to the region to help address the lack of high-speed internet provision in Martinstown. Currently, BT is surveying the area with the view to introducing an upgraded infrastructure, but for many this is not happening fast enough.

Mr Maguire said: "I have asked the council to maintain pressure on DETI to ensure the earliest completion of the survey and delivery of higher internet speeds. This is not only important for social internet users, but increasingly so for farmers, with more farm business being conducted online."

A recent study from Ofcom has indicated that Northern Ireland is a nation of gadget lovers, with tablet ownership in the nation having now reached 45 per cent, while the figure for smartphones stands at 55 per cent. Moreover, around 68 per cent of people said they have used the web to pay for goods or services - up from 60 per cent last year.

As such, it is more vital than ever that Northern Irish residents have access to high-speed internet connections - something that satellite broadband services can potentially help to achieve.