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Broadband in Northern Ireland

If you are looking for a reliable broadband service in Northern Ireland, take a look at this handy guide. We'll walk you through what's available, so you can find a speedy internet service that suits you.

By on May 01, 2013 at 00:00 AM
Broadband in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, broadband is now 100 per cent accessible. £10m of European investment has enabled Northern Ireland to provide universal high-speed broadband coverage.

Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals in your area of Northern Ireland:

What kinds of internet service are available?

Here are the options for getting broadband in Northern Ireland:

ADSL broadband

ADSL broadband providers in Northern Ireland include: BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet.

This type of home broadband connection is through your BT landline. It is popular because wherever there is a BT landline, the customer should be able to get some sort of internet access via ADSL broadband.

Before you can get home broadband with an ADSL broadband connection, you need a BT landline installed in your home. If you already have a BT landline installed at your home, then you should be able to get ADSL broadband. If you don't have a BT landline, a BT landline installation will cost you around £125.

The best thing about ADSL broadband is that you can surf the internet without the connection dropping out when someone picks up the phone in the other room.

To access ADSL broadband you will need to plug a microfilter into each telephone socket in your home, this will split the ADSL signal from the telephone signal and stop you from getting interference when you make phone calls. This means you can make a call and surf the net on the same phone line.  These microfilters are usually provided with your broadband (depending on supplier) but can also be purchased from a good PC retailer for around £5.

Cable broadband

Cable broadband is widely available in metropolitan areas like Belfast from Virgin Media.

The cable feed for cable broadband services is taken into your home from the street, and connected to a special cable modem, which is capable of decoding the cable broadband signal.  The cable modem can then be connected directly into your computer, or to a wireless router which can connect to several PCs if you wish to share the internet connection. Virgin Media offer several broadband packages in Northern Ireland which include on-demand digital TV and home phone services.

Mobile broadband

There are many mobile broadband providers in Northern Ireland including: 3, EE and Vodafone.

Mobile broadband can give you a fast high-speed broadband connection in areas where you can get a 3G mobile telephony signal. Mobile broadband speeds are generally between 1.5Mbps and 2Mbps which is a lot faster than dial up - but still significantly slower than your average 'fixed line' broadband.

EE is currently upgrading their 3G mobile broadband in Northern Ireland, and preparing to roll out 4G services, starting with Belfast and continuing to reach more areas of Northern Ireland during 2013.

When you sign up to mobile broadband, you will usually get a mobile broadband modem also known as a mobile broadband dongle. The mobile broadband dongle connects to a USB port on your PC and loads up software from the mobile broadband provider. This software then provides you with mobile broadband.

You do not need a phone line to obtain mobile broadband services - this means you can access broadband while you are on the go.

You can have a mobile broadband deal on a contact or use pay as you go. PAYG mobile broadband is the same as the pay as you go service on an ordinary mobile network.
In the same way you go down the local convenience store and top up your mobile phones credit, you can go in and top up your mobile broadband.

Wi-Fi hotspots

If your PC has wireless capabilities then you will be able to connect to a wireless broadband service or wireless broadband hot spot. If the home broadband service that you sign up to also has a wireless broadband router included, then you can connect your computer to this wirelessly, and share your broadband connection with several PCs at home.

Wi-Fi availability is more widely available in Belfast, but there are also Wi-Fi hotspots available in areas such as Enniskillen and Antrim. Many Wi-Fi hotspots in Northern Ireland are in Starbucks coffee shops and McDonald's.

The Starbucks Wi-Fi hotspots are not normally free to use but McDonald's currently offers free Wi-Fi access to customers.

Wi-Fi is also available on some public transport in Northern Ireland. Free Wi-Fi Services are available on the Airporter airport coaches at Belfast International and George Best Belfast City Airport.

If you aren't sure which broadband service to go for, make sure you check out our guide on choosing the right local broadband deal, or call our friendly Switching Advisors for free, they're available seven days a week.