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N.Ireland Seeks New 100% Broadband Coverage Contract

Posted: 02nd Oct, 2008 By: MarkJ
Northern Ireland's Telecoms Minister, Arlene Foster, has begun seeking a new supplier to help maintain the regions universal broadband coverage promise. The existing five-year contract currently rests with BT, though this will be coming to an end on 31st March 2009.

The governments Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) hopes to find an ISP capable of offering basic, but affordable, broadband services to customers who are unable to access a fixed-line solution:

The Minister said: “I am determined that Northern Ireland should maintain its 100% broadband availability status and those living in remote areas should continue to have access to broadband services at a reasonable cost.

My department is therefore issuing an invitation to tender today for a service provider that can offer basic broadband services to those premises that are unable to access a fixed-line solution.
”

Typically the ending of BT's contract will have no impact on the vast majority of fixed-line broadband users. Unfortunately those connecting to the Internet via one of BT's niche satellite services will find their service terminated on 1st April 2009.

Those customers who are currently in receipt of broadband services via satellite will receive a letter and a form from BT to explain the change of contract. Customers should complete the form and return it to DETI by no later than 31st October 2008, to ensure they are registered as a priority for migration to the new service as soon as it is in place:

Arlene Foster continued: “DETI wishes to reassure those affected customers that the migration process, from one service provider to another, will take place as a matter of urgency and free of charge.”

It's unclear whether or not BT intends to resubmit for the contract, although we would expect them to. Hopefully any future suppliers can come up with a tangible alternative to satellite access, which is a comparatively restrictive technology and suffers from high latency (slow response times). Credits to Thinkbroadband for spotting the link on eGov monitor.
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