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Are Northern Ireland Businesses Maximising the Potential of our Improved Communications Infrastructure?

Web Bureau


26 November 2012 by Web Bureau

Good communication is at the heart of any successful business and the internet is undoubtedly the key communications channel which brings us closer to the audiences we want to engage with.  When it comes to internet infrastructure, penetration and take-up, Northern Ireland has plenty to shout about when it comes to marketing Northern Ireland as a good place to do business.

Internet Access – How Effective is Northern Ireland’s Communications Infrastructure?

In February a £25m investment in mobile infrastructure was announced to bridge the gap in 2G and 3G mobile coverage in Northern Ireland in comparison to the rest of the UK. Predictions cited that we would have 94% 3G coverage by the end of the year.  The Chancellor George Osborne also announced plans in the March budget to make Belfast a ‘super-connected’ city due to a successful bid for funding to deliver ultrafast fixed broadband access and large areas of public wireless connectivity.  The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) launched the Next Generation Broadband Project, which has played a key role in setting Northern Ireland apart from other UK regions. Northern Ireland now has the highest household availability of superfast broadband services at 94%, some 34% higher than the UK average of 60%.

Internet Penetration – What is the Profile of a Typical Internet User in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland’s broadband penetration varies significantly by demographic factors. Nearly nine in ten households with children and over eight in ten adults aged 16-34 or in the AB social group have access to broadband services at home, whereas the over 55’s are the least likely group to have broadband at home.

Internet Consumption – What Channels do NI People Use to Access the Internet?

Aside from internet consumption on PC’s, Northern Ireland has an increasingly technology-savvy community, with around 9% of households now owning a tablet computer such as an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, compared to only 2% in 2011. In addition, 8% of homes now own an e-reader such as a Kindle. These technology hungry individuals are typically aged 35-54, from AB social groups/higher income homes and living in an urban area.  Smartphone penetration among adults in Northern Ireland has risen substantially in 2012 to 34%, up from 21% in 2011, and 35% of adults in Northern Ireland now access the internet on their mobile phone compared to 29% in 2011.

Impact of the Internet on Consumers – What are Northern Ireland People Doing Online?

The internet is having an increasing impact on our lives. In Northern Ireland, 80% of internet users are emailing, 72% are shopping for goods and services and 66% are social networking. These are the most popular activities we engage in when we are online.  In total, almost half of all adults in Northern Ireland (49%) use social networking sites on their PC’s or mobile phones, including Facebook and Twitter. Fifty-six per cent of those with broadband at home use their connection to view TV or video clips, while the same proportion engage in internet banking (up by 5% since 2011).

Are you making the most of the opportunities the internet presents to you?

We have greatly improved broadband access in NI and increasing numbers of our population access the internet at home, at work and on the move, to communicate with each other and buy and sell goods and services.  This is compelling evidence that Northern Ireland businesses need to harness the power of the internet to sustain and grow, and also to attract inward investment into Northern Ireland. 

For more information on using the internet to grow your business email us on info@thewebbureau.com or by phone to 028 9073 1190.

*Statistics sourced from OFCOM Communications Market Report for Northern Ireland, published July 2012

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