NI has lowest take-up of 'basic' broadband services

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Northern Ireland has the lowest take-up of 'basic' broadband services in the UK at 63.9%, the enterprise minister told the Assembly on 21 January 2013.

Arlene Foster said that Northern Ireland's infrastructure was "not perfect and there is more to be done".

She said that £19m worth of funding had been earmarked to improve broadband services.

Mrs Foster said people wrote to her because they were struggling to receive a service that was acceptable, or met their needs.

"I know of the particular difficulties rural dwellers face, whether it is a lack of coverage, the cost or incurring unnecessary roaming charges," she said.

"I fully understand the expectations and at times, frustrations of people who don't receive an adequate service and I and my officials are ready to assist where we can."

The minister did say that the average speed consumers accessed the internet had more than doubled in the 2012.

She said that although the telecoms industry was privatised, she was continuing to encourage investment to the sector in order to meet demand, improve coverage, widen the range of services and enhance the infrastructure.

Mrs Foster said that in the last few years, the Department Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Executive had invested £45m in improving Northern Ireland's telecoms infrastructure.

Enterprise Committee chairman Patsy McGlone said he found it "very disappointing" that Northern Ireland had the third lowest outdoor coverage of 2G mobile coverage from all operators across the UK.

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