Audit Office report shows Derry broadband lags behind Belfast and is unable to declare £35.1m public telecommunication projects value for money

A new report by the Audit Office (NIAO) shows Derry has better broadband than rural areas but still lags behind Belfast and its exurbs.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:16 pm

The ‘Broadband Investment in NI’ audit shows access to higher speed internet varies considerably between council areas. It shows 95% of residences in Derry can access speeds of 10Mbps, 91% can access speeds of up to 30Mbps, and 55% can access speeds of up to 300Mbps. In Belfast the equivalent figures were 100% (10Mbps), 99% (30Mbps) and 73% (300Mbps).

Ards and North Down, Lisburn and Castlereagh City and Antrim and Newtownabbey all enjoy faster broadband than Derry and Strabane, the report shows. Derry does, however, fare better than more rural locations.

“Drilling down to individual council level highlights that councils in urban areas across NI, such as; Belfast City Council; Ards and North Down; Lisburn and Castlereagh; Derry City and Strabane have greater access to broadband than more rural councils, such as Fermanagh and Omagh (where 21 per cent of premises are unable to access decent broadband (10Mbps),” Mr. Donnelly’s report states.

One of the main findings of the report is that it was not possible to verify that two major public broadband projects, costing a total of £35.1 million in public subsidy, achieved value for money. It considered two projects funded by the Department for the Economy – the NI Broadband Investment Programme (NIBIP) and the Superfast Rollout Programme (SRP2). Both projects increased broadband connectivity to premises across the north. Access to broadband, at speeds of up to 30Mbps, is lower in the north than any other UK region, particularly in rural areas.