A Snapshot in Time for Rural Communications

17 April 2014

Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA has welcomed the launch of a report examining the much debated topic of broadband and mobile connectivity in rural areas across Northern Ireland.

A Snapshot in Time for Rural Communications

Members of the ICT Thematic Working Group pictured with Minister O'Neill at the launch of the group report entitled: 'Virtual Rurality: Snapshot of Telecommunications in Rural Northern Ireland' 

The report, entitled ‘Virtual Rurality: A Snapshot of Telecommunications in Rural Northern Ireland’ has been prepared by the Rural Network for Northern Ireland, in association with its ICT Thematic Working Group.

This group comprises members from each of the 7 Local Action Groups of the NI Rural Development Programme. The report examines the issue of rural telecommunications and presents information in what is a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

Welcoming the report, Minister O’Neill said, “I welcome the launch of this report, given the significant interest I have in rural broadband. My Department has been at the forefront of investment into telecommunications infrastructure and by March 2015 will have invested £7.5m in addressing rural blackspots for broadband. The latest investment will see £5m targeted directly at rural areas of high deprivation that currently have no access to broadband”.

The report draws out current statistics in relation to broadband and mobile connectivity and highlights results from a survey carried out by the Rural Network for NI. As Teresa Canavan from the Network, explains: “the report highlights the leadership position that Northern Ireland holds at UK level in terms of broadband infrastructure, which is to be welcomed; however deficiencies still exist in accessing a reliable service, both in terms of broadband and mobile connectivity.’

Chairperson of the ICT Thematic Working Group, Loraine Griffin (SWARD) continues: ‘Given the rising importance of telecommunication technology, there is a need for innovation to raise awareness and exploit the position that NI holds in terms of infrastructure, but also to be innovative in adopting solutions for those who are still struggling to get online. Recommendations contained within the report, we believe, would help with this challenge.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded from www.ruralnetworkni.org.uk