This technical note outlines what the internet is, how it can be used and what benefits it has to offer, in improving the effective management of farm businesses.

What is the internet?

In simple terms it is a worldwide system of computer networks in which any one computer can get information from any other computer connected to the network.

What can the internet offer you?

  • information - from any source world wide that has a presence on the internet, (for example, agriculture advisers, colleges, universities, banks, purchasers, supply companies)
  • business tools – online herd management tools (for example. APHIS Online, farm software suppliers) and other tools, such as online banking or currency converters
  • a world wide market place – virtually anything can be bought or sold
  • communication - email allows communication with anyone at anytime
  • discussion groups - exchange information with other farmers and individuals about what interests or troubles you

How do I get connected?

Broadband or high speed internet access is available to ALL households in Northern Ireland. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) can provide you with a broadband connection.

What is Broadband?

Broadband internet access is generally regarded as any high speed connection that is always on.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) normally charge a fixed monthly fee that will give you access to the internet. Some providers may restrict the amount of data that you can download, or the speed at which you can download data in any month. Others provide 'unlimited' access with no restrictions. But beware of terms and conditions of your contract, as most providers will have a 'fair use' policy even for unlimited usage contracts.

There are various Broadband options available, but not all options are available to all households.

Phone line

The internet data is sent and received using your telephone line connected to a ADSL modem/router in your home. Check BT website for speed and coverage details.


Some urban areas in Northern Ireland have access to cable broadband. Virgin Media is the main supplier of cable broadband in Northern Ireland and covers most of Belfast and other large urban regions.


Wireless Broadband providers can offer users a service that allows you to receive broadband data from a wireless transmitter in your area. You don’t need a phone line. These tend to be localised services in areas where broadband via telephone is limited.


Satellite Broadband is an option for people who cannot get phone or cable broadband. It tends to be more expensive than other types of connection for a comparable level of service.


Many mobile phone companies are offering broadband access via their mobile phone network. You are supplied with a UBS modem which plugs into your PC. The quality of broadband will depend on the mobile phone signal quality.

What will Broadband cost?

The price of Broadband access can vary dramatically depending on many factors; connection method, your usage level, download speed and whether your internet comes as part of another package such as telephone or TV. Many deals will also offer several months at a reduced rate before you pay the full rate. A general rule of thumb is to bundle services together to get a better deal.

Most ISPs’ basic broadband deal offers a speed of 'up to' a stated speed. Be aware that users rarely, if ever, experience the theoretical maximum speeds. The actual speed will vary due to many factors, such as distance to local telephone exchange, quality of the phone line, number of other users online in your area, mobile phone signal strength, and type (GPRS, 3G, HSDPA).

What is a browser?

A browser is a software application that allows you to view pages of information from the World Wide Web.

Examples are Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome. This will often be already available on your PC. If not, browsers are available to download free of charge to your PC. Although the majority of web sites function the same on all web browsers, some web pages may not. Internet Explorer is the most compatible browser and should work with all websites.

No matter which browser you choose to use, make sure you have the latest version to help keep your PC secure.

What is a Search Engine?

Trying to find a website or some information online? If you don’t know where to look, you should use one of the many search engines available online. A search engine is a web based service that allows you to search for information on the World Wide Web. Examples are Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask. Most browsers now come with integrated search facilities, meaning you don’t have to visit a web site to perform a search. Simply type a word or phrase into the address bar and the search results will be returned.

What if I can’t get Broadband?

You can! Broadband access is available to all households in Northern Ireland. Not all households can receive their broadband access via their phone line. Other options are available, but these may be more expensive than the comparable broadband via a phone line.



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