Belfast Telegraph

Media watchdog hails province's broadband connectivity

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland has the highest access to superfast broadband in the UK, according to a major report by media regulator Ofcom.

The Communications Market Report 2012 said superfast services were available to around 94% of homes and businesses, compared to 60% for the UK as a whole.

Today's report also shows the province to be falling more deeply for gadgetry with a 62% increase in smartphone ownership.

Tablet computers are also on the march and present in 9% of Northern Ireland homes.

Nearly three-quarters of broadband users were shopping online while two-thirds were dipping into social networking.

Jonathan Rose, director of Ofcom in Northern Ireland, said: "There are some striking figures in this report as highlighted by the availability of superfast broadband services.

"Significant investment by the Executive and the telecoms companies has put Northern Ireland in an enviable position and provides significant opportunities for consumers and businesses."

The report also found residents in border counties still suffer from inadvertent roaming, running up extra charges when their mobile phone switches to a network over the border. Mr Rose said: "The latest European Roaming Regulation places a responsibility on mobile operators to take 'reasonable steps' to protect their customers from inadvertent roaming charges. We are writing to the operators to find out what actions they are planning to take to meet this new obligation."

The report also scrutinised TV and radio habits, and said news show UTV Live still attracts more viewers than the BBC's Newsline. BBC local station listenership accounted for 22% of listening hours compared to 9% UK-wide.

94%

Percentage of homes here with superfast broadband access

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