The DETI Telecoms Action Plan for Northern Ireland that runs from 2011 to 2015 is intended to ensure the region meets the UK wide broadband targets for 2015. As things stand, Northern Ireland we are led to believe has a superfast service available to some 94% of homes, compared to a UK figure of 60%.
The DETI is now keen to identify those areas of Northern Ireland that are getting under 2 Mbps or the choice of broadband is limited to just a satellite service for example. To assist in this, the DETI has published a list of postcodes and is keen for the public if they have no broadband or its slower than 2 Mbps to check their postcode is on the list, and if not to submit it. To make life a little easier, there is a simple checker that looks up a postcode on the list for you.
Many people will perhaps be under the impression that Northern Ireland already has ubiquitous broadband coverage, and it does at a slow 0.5 Mbps, or by using a satellite broadband service. This basic coverage has in theory being in place since 2005, so work to meet a USC of 2 Mbps and improve service choice will be very welcome for the thousands affected.
The advantage of asking the public to help in collecting the data is that it avoids the issue where broadband operators may overstate the availability and performance of a service. The consultation runs until 12th October 2012 and is also seeking input from operators in Northern Ireland as to what their service offers now, and what their expansion plans are.