Fermanagh and South MLA Deborah Erskine has welcomed the announcement by the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons that Project Stratum will be expanded, representing an extra £32 million of investment across Northern Ireland.

Mrs. Erskine received confirmation in December that 1,303 homes in Fermanagh and South Tyrone would be added to the project's reach.

She said: “The people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone have had to suffer more than any other as a result of digital inequalities in broadband provision.

"I am therefore delighted that the Economy Minister has taken action to tackle the plight of these constituents, following the securing of one of the biggest investments in telecommunications via the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

"Broadband and better connectivity is such an important issue for many of the constituents that I represent.

"It is vital for businesses to operate in this digital era in which we use technology more now than ever.

"Fermanagh and Omagh and Mid Ulster Districts, which both comprise my constituency, are within the top-five worst regions in the UK in terms of broadband connectivity. This must change."

She continued: "It is welcome that the properties added to Project Stratum include hard to reach premises that previously remained out of scope due to insufficient funding, and eligible premises that were not originally considered for inclusion due to anomalies in the address database that was used by the DfE to determine the intervention area for the project.

"Not long after joining the Assembly, I had a meeting with Fibrus to discuss those [properties which were] not included and lobby for them.

"I also wrote to the Economy Minister, given the number of people that were in touch with me regarding Project Stratum. The Minister very kindly responded and indicated to me last month that 1,303 [properties] in Fermanagh and South Tyrone will be added to Project Stratum.

"It really is positive that Fermanagh and South Tyrone will be getting the biggest slice of investment from Project Stratum, bridging the gap for those of us suffering from the technological divide that exists.

"I want the economy to thrive and I do not want my area to be disadvantaged. There should be no technological divide.

"This is a good day for those waiting on rural broadband, but we should not rest until every part of Northern Ireland has access to broadband provision,” she added.