30/09/2008

Minister Seeks Provider For 100% NI Broadband Access

There has been a pledge to maintain 100% broadband access - at a reasonable cost - across Northern Ireland.

The Department of Enterprise has issued an invitation to tender for a service provider that can offer basic broadband services to customers who are unable to access a fixed-line solution.

This service will replace DETI's five-year contract with BT to provide 100% broadband coverage across Northern Ireland and will ensure an uninterrupted service to those customers currently receiving broadband via satellite.

NI Telecoms Minister Arlene Foster made her promise a week after the Minister met with BT boss Sir Mike Rake to discuss future communications investment in the Province.

BT's current contract will end on 31 March 2009 - but will have no impact on the vast majority of broadband users - as they receive their broadband services via telephone lines.

For those who are unable to access a fixed-line solution, however, service will be terminated with effect from 1 April 2009.
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The Minister said: "I am determined that Northern Ireland should maintain its 100% broadband availability status and those living in remote areas should continue to have access to broadband services at a reasonable cost.

"My Department is therefore issuing an invitation to tender for a service provider that can offer basic broadband services to those premises that are unable to access a fixed-line solution."

Those customers who are currently in receipt of broadband services via satellite will receive a letter and a document from BT to explain the change of contract.

Customers should complete the form and return it to DETI as quickly as possible, to ensure they are registered as a priority for migration to the new service as soon as it is in place.

"DETI wishes to reassure those affected customers that the migration process, from one service provider to another, will take place as a matter of urgency and free of charge," Ms Foster added.

See: BT Boss Meets Robinson Over Broadband Investment

(PR/JM)

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