I’ve taken both countries together, as their average broadband speed is the slowest in the UK; Northern Ireland (2.26 Mbps) being the slower of the two. Wales is slightly better on 2.59 Mbps.
Both countries are the lowest in the UK for broadband take-up. Northern Ireland is slightly behind Scotland at 52 %, and Wales is crawling at a take-up of 45 %. This would put Northern Ireland at 17th in the ITIF take-up ranking if included, in front of Spain. Wales would be at 21st just in front of Portugal. This is in comparison to the UK’s 12th position on broadband take-up, though Wales is slightly better than nearby Liverpool’s rate of 40 %, and Glasgow’s rate of 32 % which is the lowest in all of the UK.
BT claim in Wales that the country has 99 % access to broadband, a claim that has been disputed by the Welsh Consumer Council.
The Pembrokeshire firm Telecom Facilities seeks to improve the access to 100 % by a novel idea – they plan to put wifi basestations in church spires to bring broadband to rural communities!
That’s such a good idea it deserves to be taken on in rural communities throughout Scotland, England and Northern Ireland too that are still without broadband.
The Liberal Democrats in Wales have not been slow to point out the discrepancy of speed. Mark Williams, the MP for Ceredigion, has stated: “These results show the true picture of broadband services in the UK. While London enjoys the full benefit of super-fast connections, Wales is left with the internet equivalent of two cups and a piece of string.”
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland was the first country in the UK to achieve 100 % Broadband access in its exchanges. This is in comparison to Scotland; Ofcom does not even know how much of Scotland is beyond the reach of broadband!
Northern Ireland has one of the average lowest weekly wages in the UK and one of highest comparative spends on communications. Thus, even with a low weekly wage people are still spending on communications.
It also has a higher rural population than the rest of the UK. Rural broadband take-up was slightly higher (54%) than urban take-up (52%).
Although both have low broadband speeds and take-up rates, there is some good news on language. There are some 14000 articles on wikipedia written in Welsh and around 6000 articles written in Ulster Scots.
That’s a fair achievement considering the low take-up and speed.
Just think what could be done if the take-up was improved.