Belfast Telegraph

£250k boost to broadband speed

A new investment of £250,000 has been made by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to increase the spread of fibre-based broadband into rural Northern Ireland.

Telecommunications giant BT has been awarded the funding through the £1.9m Northern Ireland Broadband Fund, co-financed under the European Regional Development Fund Sustainable Competitiveness Programme 2007- 2013.

The new investment is additional to the £48m next generation broadband project announced in December last year.

Fibre optic cable will be used to deliver broadband in rural locations across counties Antrim, Armagh, Down and Tyrone. The cable will enable BT and other service providers to deliver faster broadband than can be done with the existing copper wire system.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed BT’s winning proposal. “Since its launch in August 2008, my department has committed almost £900,000 supporting the delivery of telecoms infrastructure projects in some of the most rural parts of Northern Ireland.

“In addition to my department’s contribution of £250,000, BT will be contributing around £865,000 to this project. This is the largest investment to date under the broadband fund and is particularly significant in the current climate.

“It is also an endorsement of BT’s ongoing commitment to the development of Northern Ireland’s telecoms network, as they have already made a significant investment under the £48m next generation broadband project.

“As with that project, access to the infrastructure will be available to other communications providers, creating the potential for competition in delivery of broadband services.”

Around 23 new cabinets containing the fibre-optic broadband equipment will be installed in Benburb, Crossmaglen, Downpatrick, Forkhill, Hillsborough, Larne and Newtownhamilton.

The minister said improvements to telecommunications made the province a “very attractive global investment proposition” which could deliver up to £500,000 per year to the economy.

BT chief executive Graham Sutherland said: “High speed broadband gives the citizens, businesses and Government of Northern Ireland the power to positively change how they live their lives and run their organisations.”

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