20 Mar 2024
by Ian Bailey

Take some tips on connectivity from Northern Ireland

Guest blog by Ian Bailey, Head of Public Sector- National Authorities at Virgin Media O2 Business #LocalDigitalIndex #BuildingStrongerEconomies

If someone said ‘Northern Ireland’ to you 100 years ago, you’d have thought shipbuilding, rope works and maybe linen factories.

These days, you’d probably say cybersecurity, fintech and advanced manufacturing. That’s a testament to everyone who’s worked so hard building connectivity in Northern Ireland.

Because these kind of industries can only thrive when they’re connected. And when it comes to connectivity, Northern Ireland is setting the pace.

The journey continues

Of all the four UK nations, Northern Ireland’s leading the way when it comes to fullfibre connectivity, with 91% of homes enjoying full availability.

That’s an impressive figure, especially when you consider how the other nations are doing according to Ofcom :

  • England     56%
  • Wales        55%
  • Scotland   53%

5G coverage is spreading fast too. 2023 saw a big increase in 5G across Northern Ireland with 80% of the country getting a good signal and 70% getting a very good signal, up from 44% and 37% in 2022.

Which is good news if you live there – and work there too. Because investing in connectivity has made Northern Ireland one of the most attractive places to do business in the UK.

Quite the success story, as long as everyone sees the benefits. Because when it comes to connectivity, people do get left behind and left out. And if people are getting left behind, there’s still work to do.

Working towards 100%

Coverage in Northern Ireland may be the best in the UK but there are still over 75,000 homes without full-fibre connectivity. And 20-30% of the country is without 5G.

But rest assured – we’re working extremely hard to plug these gaps.

Our Project Lightning programme has brought 69,000 Belfast businesses secure, high-speed broadband. And we’ve already connected more than 200 of Belfast City Council’s locations – including offices, parks and tourist attractions – to our ultrafast network.

In fact, 278,000 homes are now passed by our network throughout Northern Ireland.

Because no-one should miss out, we’re helping the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust give its 20,000 workforce the digital tools they need to serve around 340,000 people throughout the city.1

Connecting to success

Northern Ireland has set the bar high for embracing digital change. And it’s been achieved by decision-makers and employees who’ve worked together, worked smarter and championed this change.

The results speak for themselves.

“Northern Ireland embracing digital transformation can help us retain talent but also create further opportunities for mothers, carers, or others previously locked out of office-based roles. It’s a great story for equality and the economic success of our society.”

Roseann Kelly, CEO, Women In Business NI

Want to know more about our work in Northern Ireland and how we’re helping out with levelling up?

Take a look at our website

techUK – Building Stronger Local Economies 


techUK champions the tech sector throughout the UK. We work with local authorities, devolved government, and local and national policy makers to advocate for the tech sector in strengthening economic growth and resilience. We provide opportunities for our members and local stakeholders to meet, build relationships, and collaborate to drive forward local projects. For more information or to get in touch, please visit our Nations and Regions Hub and click ‘contact us’. 

Upcoming Nations and Regions events:

Latest news and insights:

Get our Nations and Regions insights straight to your inbox:

Sign-up to get the latest updates and opportunities from our Nations and Regions programme.


Contact the team:

Matt Robinson

Matt Robinson

Head of Nations and Regions, techUK

Ileana Lupsa

Ileana Lupsa

Programme Manager, Local Public Services and Nations and Regions, techUK

Learn more about our Nations and Regions campaign:







Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey

Head of Public Sector- National Authorities, Virgin Media O2 Business