Broadband speeds of up to 8Mbps are on the cards for Northern Ireland broadband users, according to new plans by BT to upgrade more than 190 exchanges.
BT said yesterday that new higher-speed services will be introduced that will see broadband speeds increase from between two and four times faster than what’s currently available.
The move comes as part of a BT project to upgrade more than 5,300 exchanges and provide the fastest broadband capabilities that the current ADSL technology will support.
Exchanges in Northern Ireland already involved in trials for the new broadband speed are: Balmoral, Belfast City, Cregagh, Belfast Knock, Bangor, Glengormley, Lisburn, Foyle, Waterside and Newtownards.
It says that the higher line rates will enable people to run more “bandwidth-hungry” applications at the same time such as video on demand, online gaming and music downloads as well as the standard email and web surfing.
BT estimates that more than 75pc of Northern Ireland phone lines should support new broadband download speeds of 4Mbps and above.
It says that for those living and working close to their local telephone exchange, line rates up to 8Mbps may be possible.
The faster speeds will be provided to homes and business by some 200 broadband service provider companies that will set the prices for customers based on faster line rates.
BT says that its line checker at www.bt.com/broadband is being updated to show the expected speeds available for individual lines from 31 March. Information is already available for the exchanges currently undergoing trials.
“Faster broadband does not just mean faster emailing or faster surfing on the net,” explained Frank McManus, head of broadband at BT Northern Ireland.
“These higher-speed services make it possible to do a whole range of new and exciting things in education, leisure, recreation and, of course, in the office, things which aren’t yet possible for most customers. For example, people can choose from a distant library really high-quality, high-definition films and videos at a time that suits them,” McManus said.
By John Kennedy