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BT steps up as City of Culture sponsor with broadband pledge

By Paul Gosling

BT has been announced as the first major sponsor of the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013.

The sponsorship involves BT prioritising investment in high-speed broadband connectivity in and around the city by the autumn of this year.

BT said Derry would be the first city anywhere in Ireland — and one of the first in the UK — to have fibre connections deployed to all its streets, enabling businesses and residents to access ‘superfast’ broadband speeds, with download capability of up to 40Mb/s and uploads of 10Mb/s.

It will be available to 6,000 businesses and 21,000 households, not just through BT, but also via open access from other telecoms providers.

Together with the Project Kelvin fibre-optic link from the United States into Derry, the faster broadband connectivity offers the prospect of the city becoming a major centre for the development of digital technologies and businesses.

Culture Company 2013 Interim chair Declan McGonagle added: “This city partnership will help us create more opportunities for communities to connect through digital technology and deliver on our bid promise to make culture accessible through the digital realm. A creative and connected digital city is one of the strategic principles for transforming the city and region.

“Therefore, this is the perfect partnership to help deliver on this promise and we look forward to working with BT over the next number of years to grow this access for all.”

Businesses and households in rural areas near Derry will also benefit from faster broadband schemes, under a separate Next Generation Broadband Project.

Funding for this project is being provided jointly by BT, which is investing nearly £30m; DETI, which has committed £16.5m under the European Regional Development Fund's European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme; and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Rural Development Programme.

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