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DUP MLA for North Down Gordon Dunne has welcomed progress in broadband provision within Northern Ireland highlighted in the Ofcom Connected Nations 2019 report.

The report highlights the importance of the Confidence and Supply agreement negotiated by the DUP in boosting broadband speeds for many people across Northern Ireland.

Mr Dunne, who is also a member of the Economy Committee, said,

“Over the past few months, the importance of access to broadband has been brought back into sharp focus. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many people working from home for the first time and remote learning introduced for students. The ability to do either of these successfully was largely dependent upon the ability to access a reliable broadband connection.

The Ofcom report does show that coverage of full fibre networks is increasing and customers are increasingly choosing these services. However, that is often customers choosing between a good service and a better one. The key issue still remains for those customers who struggle to achieve any kind of usable service, particularly in rural areas.

Access to broadband was identified by the DUP as a key priority for Northern Ireland in 2017 when the Confidence and Supply agreement was negotiated. The report highlights how 97,000 premises across Northern Ireland will be eligible for a broadband boost under Project Stratum. That procurement for that project was funded from the Confidence and Supply agreement.

This report, and the experience of many people over the last few months demonstrates why it was so important that access to broadband was included within the Confidence and Supply agreement. Improving access for people across all parts of Northern Ireland must also continue to be a priority for the Executive going forward.”