How the gadget world changed in a year
Northern Ireland top for broadband
Northern Ireland has the highest availability of superfast broadband in the UK
Northern Ireland has the highest availability of superfast broadband in the UK.
Services are available to around 94% of premises. It is too early to tell how many customers are using it.
Last year UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced Northern Ireland would receive £4.4 million to expand its superfast broadband rollout, with additional funding from the Stormont Executive.
Nearly three-quarters of broadband users are shopping online and two-thirds are social networking with friends and family. More than a third of adults are also accessing the internet with their mobile phones, fresh research from communications regulator Ofcom revealed.
Jonathan Rose, Ofcom's Northern Ireland director, said: "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."
The Communications Market Report 2012 also revealed an increasing appetite for internet on the move, with a tenth of people owning a tablet computer and a third having a smartphone.
Mr Rose added: "People are becoming more engaged with the internet, not simply using it to browse for information."
Overall, 69% of homes in Northern Ireland have a broadband connection, compared with 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 of those aged 55 and above had access to broadband, compared with the UK average of 59%.
The report also said 30% of adults in Northern Ireland say they prefer to send emails than letters, lower than the UK average. Consumers in Northern Ireland also claim to send post less frequently than in other parts of the UK. However, a fifth said they would feel cut off from society without the postal service.
Northern Ireland internet users are more likely than all UK users to have suffered a negative experience online - around two in three have received spam emails.