Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Maria Eagle said yesterday that Northern Ireland consumers are adopting broadband at some of the fastest rates across the UK and numbers are approaching a quarter of a million. By comparison, there are approximately 330,000 broadband subscribers in the Republic of Ireland.
“Estimates made by my department suggest that the number of broadband accounts across Northern Ireland is approaching a quarter of a million,” Eagle said. “Over the past six months, consumers have been adopting it at the fastest rates in the UK. Furthermore in the past two years the number of accounts has risen from some 60,000 in 2004 to today’s levels of approximately 230,000.”
Since the announcement in January that broadband is available to 100pc of the population of Northern Ireland, the region is leading the way in adopting broadband. Some 59pc of households access the internet and of those who do access it from home 57pc have broadband.
Minister Eagle continued: “Other work also indicates that the number of broadband connections in Northern Ireland is comparable with regions such as Scotland and Wales, although we still come in behind regions such as London and the South East.
“It is clear that people in Northern Ireland see benefits in having broadband both in business and at home, and I would urge those who are considering getting broadband to act soon. Government, along with the EU under the Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme, has invested to ensure anyone in Northern Ireland who wants a broadband service can get it. This makes the region unique in Europe if not the world.”
The Minister urged those who already have a broadband connection to focus on how this can be used as a tool to put them at the centre of a new online economy.
She said: “A broadband connection allows businesses to exploit online opportunities in a competitive global marketplace. There are many openings for entrepreneurs to develop products and services, selling to niche markets here, and throughout Ireland, Britain, Europe and across the world.”
By John Kennedy