Rural areas still lagging behind for broadband in NI

By Clodagh Rice
BBC News NI Business Correspondent

image source, Getty Images

More people in Northern Ireland can get faster broadband, but rural areas are still lagging behind, according to a report by Ofcom.

Demand for getting online has increased, but this report says more work is needed to improve services in rural areas, where customers experience slower speeds.

Some 89% of homes in Northern Ireland can access superfast broadband.

This means they can download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s.

But in rural areas availability is lower at 66%.

Half of homes in Northern Ireland (49%) can get ultrafast broadband, which means they get download speeds of at least 300 Mbit/s.

Almost one in three homes (31%) in Northern Ireland can now get full fibre broadband, which offers download speeds of up to one gigabit per second (1 G bit/s).

Ofcom says it expects superfast broadband coverage to increase as a number of UK-wide and Northern Ireland specific public sector initiatives are currently underway.

For example, project Stratum is aimed at those unable to get superfast speeds.

'Fastest rate ever'

The Department for the Economy has identified 97,000 premises in Northern Ireland that will be eligible for a broadband boost.

The procurement for the £165m project was launched in July 2019 and contract award is anticipated in mid-2020.

Jonathan Rose, director at Ofcom Northern Ireland, said: "This year we've seen full fibre broadband grow at its fastest ever rate, and the first 5G services launched in Northern Ireland.

"But despite this good progress, there is more to do to bring all parts of the country up to speed- particularly in rural areas. So we're working with industry and the Government to help bring better services to people who need them."

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