Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed today’s announcement by OFCOM to reduce significantly the prices that BT Wholesale can charge internet service providers (ISPs) in primarily rural, less densely populated areas.
Minister O’Neill said: “In today’s digital society, broadband communication is increasingly important for business development and growth, delivery of government services and to our everyday lives. But some rural areas of the north are being left behind. Without access, or a decent level of access to broadband, these communities and businesses are being denied the opportunity to join the digital age.
“OFCOM’s decision has the potential to redress this imbalance and narrow the digital divide between urban areas and more rural parts of the north. Reducing the prices that BT Wholesale can charge other providers is expected to generate more competition between retail ISPs and lead to cheaper retail prices and better quality services for consumers.
“This is good news and has the potential to bring economic and social benefits to rural areas. From an economic perspective, it will no doubt bring some relief to many rural businesses who may be suffering as a result of having poor access to broadband or inadequate speeds with their broadband service. It will also benefit some of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in our rural areas, and address feelings of exclusion and isolation, by helping younger and older people to access these new technologies and the opportunities provided by them.”