‘Pigeon Post would be quicker than rural broadband’

Residents in some rural parts of Ballymena “would be quicker sending a pigeon” than waiting on broadband connection, Councillor Hubert Nicholl has said.

His comments came at last Monday night’s Economic Growth & Development Committee of Council following a presentation on the Northern Ireland Broadband Project by representatives of DETI Mr T Forsythe and Mr A. Preston.

The Project is being driven by the Telecoms Policy Unit with DETI and aims to ensure that virtually all premises in the province will be able by 2015 to avail of a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps and at least 90% of premises will be provided with superfast broadband with speed in excess of 24Mbps.

A ‘postcode intervention list’ was currently being compiled by DETI defining those areas where work was required to provide an acceptable level of basic broadband or superfast broadband.

Councillors heard that DETI was seeing broadband speed increasing in Ballymena, a drop in premises getting slow broadband ie. less than 2Mbps and a growth in superfast in the borough.

Cllr Hubert Nicholl said: “I’m very disappointed that outlying rural areas are still getting very very poor broadband.

“The farmers are now being told to do all their work, like registering a calf, online.

“The people I represent are at the very end of the line from the Randalstown Exchange. You would be quicker sending a pigeon than waiting on broadband connection.

Cllr Paul Maguire said that in Martinstown only some residents - those connected to upgraded ‘green cabinets’ were able to avail of high speed broadband.

Cllr Monica Digney said she, too, was “disappointed”, adding “I thought these green boxes were being rolled out to rural areas. Too much investment is being put into the cities. They don’t need the same amount of care as we do. Every farm is a business but still the rural areas are being neglected. It seems as if they are less important than the city,” she said.

Cllr Timothy Gaston added: “The people in the Country do feel as if they are being left behind”.

Cllr Beth Adger said Kells, Broughshane and Carnalbana had mobile phone reception and broadband speed which amounted to “next to nothing”.