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Orange, T-Mobile and Three UK Boost Mobile Broadband Cover in Northern Ireland

Posted: 15th Feb, 2012 By: MarkJ
3g mobile broadbandnorthern irelandMobile operators Orange UK, T-Mobile (Everything Everywhere) and Three (3) have agreed to jointly fund a £25m initiative that will upgrade their Mobile Broadband (3G) population coverage of Northern Ireland from just 54% today (Ofcom's figure) to 94% by the end of 2012. Existing 2G (voice / GPRS / EDGE) services are also likely to benefit.

The effort would be handled as part of the three operators existing network sharing arrangement, which is managed by the Mobile-Broadband Network Limited (MBNL) joint venture.

N.Ireland's Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, said:

"This is excellent news for Northern Ireland. My Department has for a number of years recognised the importance of state-of-the-art telecommunications networks to the development of the economy.

News of an investment of this size in the growing mobile sector comes at an important time. My Department has consulted extensively on telecoms investment priorities for 2011-2015 and has received endorsement for proposals to examine ways to deliver improvements in high-speed mobile delivery.

We are in detailed discussions with the UK Government to source sizeable funding to deliver a 4G platform to allow us to benefit from the next evolution of mobile services."

In addition Arlene Foster announced that she would work to seek further improvements by bringing together the Mobile Operators Association, a representative body for the UK's four main operators, and members of the Legislative Assembly. The move would apparently "stimulate debate on development of mobile networks" but it's not known what else might emerge.

Ofcom revealed last year that 73% of premises and just 13% of the UK's landmass can receive a signal outdoors from all five 3G networks, with lower coverage in less densely populated areas. Approximately 7.7 million UK premises do not have a choice of all five 3G mobile networks and many parts of Northern Ireland have no choice at all (here and here).
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