Northern Ireland has announced a £24.5 million investment to improve broadband speeds in the slow areas. The contract has been signed with BT and should benefit some 45,000 premises, and with 95% of Northern Ireland already able to access superfast broadband this should pretty much mean 100% coverage.
"I have consistently lobbied for additional investment from both government and telecoms providers to ensure higher speed broadband services are delivered as widely as possible. As we work to try and reach rural areas, the costs to improve services increase significantly so we need to ensure resources are used carefully.
Today’s announcement is great news for Northern Ireland. It is another significant step in making broadband services more widely available to our citizens irrespective of where they live or operate their business. I sought and I have gained an assurance from BT that these improvements will be completed by December 2015 so that consumers and businesses will benefit from the investment as quickly as possible.Arlene Foster, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister
The project is the result of previous consultations on broadband coverage and speeds that gathered data from the public in addition to the telecoms operators themselves. There is no news on what technologies will be used, but one assumes a mixture of FTTC and FTTP pushing deeper into more rural areas, it is possible that even smaller FTTC units could be deployed, e.g. you can get waterproof 48 line units that are more suited to smaller villages or these could be inserted into the network closer to clusters of premises that have long runs of copper to their normal cabinets. The only certainty is that BT has assured the Minister that the work will be completed by December 2015.
Northern Ireland comes out top from analysis of our speed test results, which adds weight to the claims of 95% coverage by superfast broadband. Though of course as people have the choice to remain with their ADSL or ADSL2+ based services or upgrade to faster products the actual average is also a measure of take-up, rather than what FTTC and other broadband technologies (e.g. Virgin Media) are achieving across the region. We currently estimate that during 2015, the average peak speed for the UK as a whole could be 30 Mbps.