Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

City switched on for digital age

Londonderry is one of 12 cities to have enhanced ‘ultra-fast’ broadband services. Sharon O’Connor, Derry City Council’s town clerk and chief executive, explained why the new services should be welcomed

Londonderry is to have 'ultra-fast' broadband services

It's fantastic news for the city and a great success story for Derry City Council and everyone involved in the bid process.

I am delighted that the council-led campaign has been successful in securing our share of the funding and ensuring that we are at the forefront in terms of digital technology. Being a super connected city is vital if Derry is to stay competitive and become a digital leader.

Derry is one of the most switched on cities in the UK or Ireland. The 2010 completion of the £30m Project Kelvin has created the fastest, high capacity city-to-city international telecommunications link from the city with the east coast of the USA and is a massive boost to local businesses competing in the international market.

"Thanks to an additional £5m investment from City of Culture partners BT, Derry will be also the first city in Ireland to provide access to fibre-based broadband for all its citizens later this year. Derry City Council currently provides the city's Wireless City network allowing free wi-fi internet access right across the city centre including the historic city core, Strand Road, Fountain, parts of the Bogside and Ebrington."

This additional funding will allow us to expand our current wireless network to cover additional parts of the city and enhance our existing network capacity to meet future demand. It will allow us to introduce a vouchers scheme to cover the connection cost of ultra-fast broadband services to be made available to SMEs that are not in areas benefiting from the infrastructure in our digital zones.

Ultra-fast broadband has the potential to bring huge benefits to businesses and enable them to do what they did before only faster and radically transform the way they communicate and use technology. It will enable them to enjoy faster upload and download speeds, help with the transportation of large data files and improve communication services such as conference calls and video conferencing.

It will also enable those businesses to make better use of web-based back-up services and help increase their productivity and competitiveness.

Ultra-fast broadband provision is not just about improving broadband speeds, it will also support next-generation telecommunications including telephone, television and mobile technologies.

It will help us compete with the fastest in the world, bring new opportunities for growth and the development of high-tech industries, and transform public services.

Council is of the view that ultra-fast broadband is an essential building block of a growing economy with the potential to transform the way we communicate and use technology.

The successful bid is part of our city's One Plan to promote the city as a digital leader and give the local economy a real boost during 2013 and our year as City of Culture.

It is central to our vision for a lasting legacy and will provide a platform to stimulate growth.

Residents in the Derry City Council area are also set to benefit from this investment in that they will also have improved access to education, training and learning tools and an improved home working connection which will in turn allow for more flexible working and improved access for information.

This significant investment will greatly assist us fulfill our commitment to transform Derry into a vibrant, high quality destination for business, tourism, education and culture and help us to create an environment that will not only continue to attract industry leading enterprise but also encourage the development of small and medium enterprises that will complement and support the city's growth during and post 2013.