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Northern Ireland's broadband criticized: One in four get expected speeds

Northern Ireland, despite having the capability to provide high-speed broadband, only one in four get the speeds they signed up for, according to regulator Ofcom.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

A report by Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, has criticised the state of the broadband industry in Northern Ireland, with only one in four reaching speeds they had signed up for.

The report suggests that Belfast, the capital city of the country, has a greater broadband infrastructure and connection speeds [PDF] than customers in other parts of the country.

In figures, the average speed in Belfast is 8.9Mbps (megabits per second), it is half that at just 4.3Mbps in Fermanagh on the other side of the country.

Having said that, Ofcom said that Northern Ireland has the highest availability of high-speed broadband services -- speeds that run above 24Mbps. Yet, a quarter of consumers can barely reach a tenth of that speed at 2Mbps.

This comes only days after Akamai's "State of the Internet" report, which put the United Kingdom far behind many mainland European counterparts in broadband speed.

Northern Ireland is the upper-part of Ireland, the island to the west of Britain's mainland. The country remains a part of the United Kingdom, while the greater southern part is an independent republic.

The UK's average for broadband speed is held at 5Mbps, putting it the 25th fastest country for Internet access in the world.

Ofcom's report also shows that mobile phone users in Northern Ireland suffer from poor 3G coverage compared to the rest of mainland Britain, with just over half of all mobile phone users in Northern Ireland can access 3G coverage, with 95 percent for the rest of the UK.

The regulator published a map of fixed-broadband information by county in the entire United Kingdom, clearly showing Northern Ireland at a speed-disparity from the rest of the mainland, with only areas around and including Belfast able to attain super-fast broadband speeds.


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