Northern Ireland gets 100% Broadband Coverage

As someone who uses the Internet every day for work, research, communication and education, this story has caught my attention. I’m sure there are many across Donegal who will wish this was something that had happened here:


Northern Ireland is the leading broadband region in Europe with 100% broadband access.

Enterprise Minister, Angela Smith announced 100% availability of broadband at MJM Group, a specialist joinery outfitting company in Rathfriland, today.

Angela Smith said: “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.

“Government has invested almost £10 million 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 story is light on specifics, but given that the contract for the system was awarded to BT, you’d have to assume that it’s standard DSL-broadband (that is, over the phone line) rather than broadband delivered by Satellite or Long-Range Wireless.

The importance of high-quality technology infrastructure cannot be overstated. Donegal has benefitted recently from the ability of International firms to locate here, and communicate across the world. This has been effective for businesses such as Pacificare, Pramerica and SITA, each of whom is based in the USA but uses broadband technology to move large amounts of Data back and forth on a daily basis.

Donegal County Council and Letterkenny Town Council have taken the lead in providing Broadband Infrastructure in Letterkenny and Donegal. In 2004, the Councils led the investment of E4.5 million to provide a Metropolitan Area Network around Letterkenny, which will allow a competitive market for ultra high speed Broadband in the Town.

That said, there are still many problems and gaps in coverage. At the moment, to get Eircom Broadband, you must live very near your exchange (less than 5km), and have a high quality phone line. This means the vast majority of Donegal is out of luck. Schemes, such as the “Broadband For The Hills” group who recently got funding to bring broadband to Milford and Fanad, exist to run “Group Broadband” schemes in areas where local people contribute much of the cost.

These schemes are a great step forward, but we need to see the Government pushing to ensure broadband is widely-available as possible.

The link for this article came from the excellent Slugger O’Toole political discussion website

Update: I’ve just seen this excellent piece about Broadband coverage in Ireland. Well worth a read for anyone interested in telecommunications in Ireland.

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