Broadband speeds double in NI – now faster than UK average

19 Nov 2012

Average broadband speeds in Northern Ireland have more doubled in the past year, from 6.3Mbps to 14.4Mbps. This compares to the UK average of 12.7Mbps in the UK.

The rise follows the widespread rollout of superfast broadband in Northern Ireland following the completion of the Next Generation Broadband Project jointly funded by the Northern Ireland executive and BT.

According to an Ofcom report, some 95pc of premises (homes and businesses) in Northern Ireland are now capable of receiving more than 30Mbps. The UK average is 65pc.

Outside of large towns and cities in the neighbouring Republic of Ireland, the penetration of what can be described as ‘superfast’ broadband doesn’t bear thinking about.

Perhaps the North’s gap-funded model might be considered by the Irish Government and local telcos as a model for achieving 100Mbps for 50pc of homes within the next four years.

Northern Ireland now boasts one of the most dense fibre networks in Northern Europe, ahead of even France and Germany.

According to Ofcom, 64pc of premises in Northern Ireland are subscribing to broadband – 11pc have a superfast speeds of 30Mbps, compared to the UK average of 7pc.

While NI is leading the charge for superfast broadband, other figures in the report show the region lags behind the UK for 3G mobile coverage.

Just 56pc of premises have 3G coverage from all operators, compared with 77pc for the UK as a whole.

An exemplar network

Jonathan Rose, director of Ofcom Northern Ireland, said: “Consumers are beginning to reap the rewards from the significant investment by the executive and telecoms companies.

“The expansion of the fibre optic network across Northern Ireland means the region has a telecommunications infrastructure which is the envy of many other countries.”

Rose said the latest report suggested that increasing use of the internet, sometimes through multiple devices at home, was helping drive demand for superfast broadband services.

“Many homes now have laptops, tablet computers, smartphones and smart TVs, which is where superfast broadband comes into its own.

“It is good news for consumers and for Northern Ireland, which is now an exemplar of how publicly led investment can help deliver superfast broadband to areas where it would otherwise not be available,” Rose said.

Communications image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years