At a time when broadband levels in the Republic are among the lowest in the EU and many people can’t even get access to it, envious glances may be cast across the border following news that Northern Ireland is now claiming total broadband coverage.
The North’s Enterprise Minister Angela Smith announced 100pc availability of broadband yesterday at a function in Rathfriland, Co Down. “This is a significant achievement for Northern Ireland to lead Europe in broadband availability. Every household, business, school and library in Northern Ireland will be able to access broadband regardless of their location,” she said.
“Government has invested almost £10m in delivering broadband across Northern Ireland and this provision is key to ensuring that the infrastructure, necessary to compete successfully in the global market, is in place.”
The North’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment awarded a contract to BT in March 2003 to provide a range of broadband services for all households and businesses delivered at equitable cost across Northern Ireland and based on best value for use of public monies. The contract is technology neutral and BT retains ownership of the infrastructure.
Completed last month, the contract was managed by the DETI and funded by the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme.
By Gordon Smith