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The Communications Market Report: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is ahead of the pack when it comes to superfast broadband availability

Northern Ireland has the highest availability of superfast broadband in the UK.

These services are available to around 94% of premises compared to 60% for the UK as a whole.

Consumers in Northern Ireland are also becoming increasingly technology savvy.

Some 34% of adults in Northern Ireland now own a smartphone - a 62% increase in the past year and there has been a fourfold rise in the proportion of people who own a tablet computer (9% of homes in Northern Ireland had a tablet in the first quarter of 2012).

This is having a significant impact on consumers lives in Northern Ireland, with nearly three quarters of broadband users shopping online and two thirds social networking with friends and family.

Over one third (35%) of adults in Northern Ireland are also accessing the internet with their mobile phones.

Jonathan Rose, Ofcoms Northern Ireland Director, said: There are some striking figures in this report as highlighted by the availability of superfast broadband services.

'Significant investment by the Executive and the telecoms companies has put Northern Ireland in an enviable position and provides significant opportunities for consumers and businesses.'

This years report contains specially commissioned research on the impact of inadvertent roaming on mobile users living and working in border areas of Northern Ireland.

In the worst affected area (South Armagh / South Down), almost a third (30%) of people say that they experience inadvertent roaming on a daily basis.

Ofcom estimates that this can cost consumers up to an estimated 300 in additional charges per year.

Jonathan Rose added: 'While the European Commission has lowered the maximum roaming rates that operators can charge, our research shows that the problem of inadvertent roaming continues to be costly for tens of thousands of consumers in Northern Ireland.

'The latest European Roaming Regulation places a responsibility on mobile operators to take 'reasonable steps' to protect their customers from inadvertent roaming charges.

'We are writing to the operators to find out what actions they are planning to take to meet this new obligation.'

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  Annex A: Adults' media literacy in the nations

 Annex B: Financial impact of inadvertent roaming in Northern Ireland: methodology

Some 65% of TV homes in Northern Ireland have pay-TV services, slightly higher than the UK average of 60%.

Spend on first-run originated programming by the BBC and UTV for viewers in Northern Ireland was down 36% since 2006, giving Northern Ireland the largest decrease across the nations over a five-year period.

However, spend per head of the population remains highest in Northern Ireland at 13.63, compared to a UK average of 4.35.

In television news, UTVs early evening bulletin continues to attract more viewers than the equivalent BBC programme, one of only two ITV regions where this is the case.

People in Northern Ireland are more likely to cut spend on pay TV than on other communications services. At 30%, this is almost twice the UK average (16%).

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Listening to BBC local stations is higher in Northern Ireland than in other UK nations.

BBC Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle accounted for 22% of listening hours in Northern Ireland, significantly higher than the UK average of 9%.

Across all the UK nations, take-up of DAB is lowest in Northern Ireland (22%). Take-up is lower in rural areas (18%) where there are fewer stations available.

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Overall, 69% of homes in Northern Ireland have a broadband connection (fixed or mobile), compared to a UK average of 76%.

Over-55s in Northern Ireland are significantly less likely to have broadband at home than in the rest of the UK.

Less than half (44%) of those aged 55+ had access to broadband services, compared to the equivalent UK average of 59%.

There has been a fourfold rise in the proportion of people who own a tablet computer (9% of homes in Northern Ireland owned a tablet in the first quarter of 2012).

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Lady on the phone

Some 93% use a mobile phone, of which 34% own a smartphone.

Nineteen per cent of homes in Northern Ireland are mobile-only, slghtly higher than the UK average of 15%.

Over one third (35%) of adults are also accessing the internet with their mobile phones.

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 Annex B: Financial impact of inadvertent roaming in Northern Ireland: methodology

Adults in Northern Ireland are less likely to say that it is worth using post for important communications.

Fourteen per cent of adults in Northern Ireland agree that it is worth using post for important communications, the lowest across all UK nations and significantly lower than the UK average (34%).

Thirty per cent of adults in Northern Ireland say they prefer to send e-mails rather than letters whenever possible.

They also claim to send post less regularly than in other parts of the UK - 58% for the UK versus 49% for Northern Ireland.

However, one in five say they would feel cut off from society without the postal service.

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Northern Ireland's Communication Market 

Television and audio-visual content

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