A £150million broadband scheme to help Northern Ireland become the UK's most connected nation could be stalled due to the absence of a devolved government, it has been warned.
SDLP MLA Justin McNulty made the claim after a meeting with officials from communication regulator Ofcom yesterday.
He said that despite "much being made" of the money secured as part of the DUP-Conservative deal, large swathes of Northern Ireland are still waiting for the rollout of the project.
Mr McNulty also claimed business is being hindered in rural and border communities as a result of more than 50,000 homes and businesses not being able to access connection speeds higher than 10mbps.
"Business growth is stifled and residents are frustrated by the lack of progress on this issue," he said. "It now appears that this much needed investment will fall victim to an inactive Stormont.
"With no Executive and no Minister in place this project is going nowhere fast."
Mr McNulty said the potential loss of the single biggest investment in broadband infrastructure, which would eclipse all investment here within the last 10 years, is "another painful reality of the failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein" to restore the Assembly.
Ofcom said it is "keen to see the £150m being spent on improving broadband" but takes "no view on the process or timeline" surrounding the investment.