Belfast Telegraph

Foster vows to improve broadband services

By Margaret Canning

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has said she wants to ensure a basic broadband service of two megabits per second across Northern Ireland.

The minister said she understood the frustrations of people who did not have an adequate service as she addressed the Assembly on telecoms and broadband services yesterday.

She said over £45m had been spent on telecoms projects by the Executive in recent years, which had left the province a "telecoms leader" across Europe.

The Minister referred to statistics from telecoms regulator Ofcom stating that, at 95%, the province now had the highest percentage of premises with access to superfast broadband, while the average speed of access to the internet had more than doubled in the last year to 14.4 megabits per second.

Ms Foster said: "Our lives are increasingly dependent on telecommunications, whether you are shopping online, booking a holiday, doing homework, emailing friends or working from home.

"As I live in a rural area, I fully understand the frustrations of people who don't receive an adequate service. I want to ensure that a basic broadband service of two megabits per second is available to everyone and to further improve the availability of superfast services."

She said the Executive also wanted to improve mobile phone services, which would include tackling roaming charges.

"I will be assessing UK Government projects to improve mobile coverage, investments made by the mobile phone companies to upgrade infrastructure and the outcomes of the auction of radio spectrum for 4G services by Ofcom to see if further target investment is required," she added.