Ulster Unionist Party Chief Whip, Robin Swann MLA, has welcomed initial proposals contained in the Digital Economy Bill, which is currently going through the Houses of Parliament.
Among the proposals is a legal right for consumers to request broadband speeds of at least 10 megabytes per second. It also gives powers for the Northern Ireland Executive to appoint a representative to the board of Ofcom, which brings parity with Scotland and Wales.
The North Antrim MLA said:
“The proposals contained in the Digital Economy Bill, which is currently going through the House of Commons, are encouraging. My Westminster colleagues, Tom Elliott MP and Danny Kinahan MP have supported the general principles of the Bill in its second reading and will examine it further when it comes to the House of Commons again.
“The introduction of a clause which enables consumers to formally request broadband speeds of greater than 10 megabytes per second, is to be welcomed. We must ensure that the legislation is binding, so the onus is placed on internet providers to step up to the mark. In my own constituency of North Antrim more than half of all households have to endure speeds of less than 10 megabytes per second, which is unacceptable in this day and age with quality internet coverage essential for everyday life, for businesses and households alike. In rural areas the lack of broadband coverage causes great annoyance.
“I also welcome the plans to give the Northern Ireland Executive the power to appoint someone on to the board of the communications regulator, Ofcom, this gives Northern Ireland parity with Scotland and Wales. If implemented, I hope the Executive uses this power of appointment appropriately, to ensure the representative is a strong advocate for consumers in Northern Ireland.
“Given that the Executive have still not appointed anyone to the Military Covenant Reference Group, despite the existence of an open invitation, we will continue to monitor this closely to ensure they exercise this new privilege wisely.”