Ofcom reveals increase in broadband access across Northern Ireland

Nearly 90 per cent of properties in Northern Ireland now have access to superfast broadband, according to the UK's telecommunications regulator Ofcom. However, about 40,000 properties are still unable to get the desired broadband speeds, mostly in rural areas.

It is reported that one in five premises in rural areas are unable to access superfast speeds in Northern Ireland.

Despite this, the overall number of properties with access to adequate speeds has increased across Northern Ireland when compared to last year - a positive step towards bridging the broadband gap.

Jonathan Rose, director of Ofcom in Northern Ireland, said: "[Ofcom’s Connection Nations 2018] report underlines the good work taking place to increase the availability of faster broadband services in Northern Ireland.

"However, there are still significant numbers of properties in rural areas that don't have access to decent broadband.

"It's therefore vital there is further action to ensure people in these areas aren't left behind."

Plans are underway between network providers and government to improve the broadband infrastructure for Northern Ireland. As part of the confidence-and-supply agreement between DUP and Conservative in 2017, an investment of £150 million has been set aside to assist with improving connectivity speeds.

There has also been improvement in mobile services across Northern Ireland, with access to outdoor 4G increasing to 79 per cent this year. However, there is more work to be done and Ofcom is working on initiatives to further mobile capacity and coverage across the country.

Mr Rose added: "Too many people and businesses are still struggling for a signal. We're particularly concerned about mobile reception in rural areas.

"As we release new airwaves for mobile, we're planning rules that would extend good mobile coverage to areas that haven't had it.

"That will help ensure that rural communities have the kind of mobile coverage that people expect in towns and cities, reducing the digital divide."