Sandra Overend the Ulster Unionist MLA for Mid-Ulster, has questioned the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on the need to improve mobile network coverage across Northern Ireland, particularly in rural areas.
Mrs Overend said;
“Poor network coverage is a significant barrier to modern communications with our friends and families, as well as business partners, suppliers and customers. During my time as an MLA, I have been contacted by many members of the public and businesses to complain about both poor rural mobile network coverage and poor rural broadband coverage.
“Having recently written to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on the issue of poor rural mobile network coverage, the response which I received from her was rather non-committal.
“The Enterprise Minister, in her response to my letter, has again taken a very passive position in relation to the failings. Although her Department has limited powers with regard to intervention in the market, it does have the ability to lobby the UK Government, Ofcom, and Mobile Network Operators. She lists the action which others are taking to address the problem, stating that “the time is not yet right for my Department to consider any intervention.”
“I contend that the Minister needs to take a more proactive approach to this problem. She needs to actively lobby and discuss the problems and potential solutions with Ofcom, the UK Government, and Mobile Network Operators. She needs to ensure that the proper infrastructure and market conditions are in place here to allow Mobile Network Operators to make the changes that are required. The Mobile Network Operators need to be pressurised to make those changes as soon as possible, so that people in rural Northern Ireland are not left in a perpetual not-spot.”