Feeds

Northern Ireland aims for 100pc broadband

Digital inclusion

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland wants to make broadband available to 100 percent of its population in three years.

The ambitious target, if met, would make Northern Ireland one of the most wired regions in the UK. Currently, only about 52 percent of homes in the North have access to broadband, compared to about 70 percent in the rest of Britain.

NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Ian Pearson, MP, announced the goal following the release of a Europe-wide tender by his Department. He said that the establishment of such an all-encompassing broadband network in the North would go far to boost the region's emerging knowledge-based economy and would end the disparity of broadband availability between urban and rural areas, addressing the challenge he referred to as "digital inclusion."

Anne Conaty, who handles telecom policy for the DETI, said that the Department is unconcerned about many of the finer details of how the 100 percent goal is reached. "At the end of the day, we are interested in providing a broadband service that will see anyone in the rural western regions have access to broadband at the same price that it costs in downtown Belfast or Derry," she said.

Conaty said that the Northern Ireland government is not looking to own a network; it is instead seeking to provide the boost that private companies would need to build one. She also said it is a technology-neutral initiative, meaning that ADSL, satellite or fixed-wireless services would all be given equal consideration, so long as they can provide a connection speed of at least 512Kbps per user.

"One-hundred percent is our aim," Conaty told ElectricNews.Net. "But we understand the realities of the situation, and if 95 percent can be met at a price vastly lower than 100 percent, we are willing to consider those options too."

The tender follows the publication of a Prior Information Notice in the European Journal on 7 May, which gave advance notice of an initiative by the Northern Ireland government designed to encourage Northern Ireland's telecommunications agenda. Minister Pearson said that over 40 interested parties have so far expressed interest in the tender, and Northern Ireland officials have already met with 19 in person.

The deadline for the first set of submissions in the phased tendering process is 22 August. A shortlist is due to be produced based on initial submissions, and the Department expects to award a contract by year's end. Conaty said that the DETI is not averse to awarding multiple contracts, "but the aim is to award just one."

In announcing the tender, Minister Pearson said that the scheme is only the latest in a number of measures by the Department and Invest Northern Ireland to promote telecommunications. Other measures include technology trial initiatives under the UK Broadband Fund, support for proposals for flagship broadband applications, and demand stimulation aggregation exercises.

© ENN

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.