APRIL 18, 2008 -- A new social housing development in Belfast is one of the first parts of the UK where residents will be offered a choice of next-generation high-speed broadband services, thanks to an initiative by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), which is responsible for telecommunications policy in Northern Ireland.
Following the trial, residents will be offered both high-speed copper-based
broadband services and fiber-to-the-home (search for FTTH), say DETI representatives. Virgin Media and Bytel, the service providers, are currently offering 20 Mbits/sec. As a result of the trial, both companies say they plan to offer customers even faster connectivity in the future.
Northern Ireland was the first region in Europe to have 100% broadband access, says DETI, which claims to be actively exploring what will be needed to deliver widespread access to next-generation broadband in its private sector.
Nigel Dodds, Economy Minister for Northern Ireland, agrees that broadband access is only the first goal in providing a high-speed infrastructure in the region. "We cannot be complacent," he asserts. "First-generation broadband is rapidly being overtaken and the debate in the UK and in other countries is increasingly about higher speed, next-generation broadband. We must look to the future and what has to be done to ensure our businesses and home users continue to have access to world class telecommunications," says Dodds.
The trial illustrates that developers and service providers can work together now to install high-speed technologies in new residential and commercial builds. Says Paul Robinson, of DETI's Telecommunications Policy Unit, "These trial high-speed residential solutions were both implemented with little technical difficulties or major challenges. The cost of installing high-speed equipment is no different to installing first-generation broadband," he notes. "These high-speed service offerings will allow residents to obtain 'next-generation' broadband services such as video on demand, high-speed video and TV streaming, Voice over IP services, and even more as new services which are purpose built for high-speed IP are rolled out."
Visit Northern Ireland's Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Investment