Communications giant BT is to install £3m worth of equipment to make Londonderry the first city in Ireland and one of the first in the UK to be totally connected via fibre-optic broadband.
The move comes as BT was yesterday unveiled as the first major partner for Derry in the run-up to its inaugural year as City of Culture in 2013.
The fibre-optic broadband is scheduled to be available to |all 21,000 homes and 6,000 businesses in the city by the |autumn of 2011.
The high-speed internet connection will help fulfil one of the chief aims of the culture bid, to make Derry a leading European digital hub.
The City of Culture team gathered with BT chiefs yesterday at the Verbal Arts Centre in the city to announce their partnership.
Speaking after the event, Graham Sutherland, chief executive of BT Ireland and Northern Ireland, said: “It will take us about nine months to build the infrastructure and make it ready to use.
“In terms of physical infrastructure alone, we will be spending £3m this year.”
Oonagh McGillion, interim director of Derry’s Culture Company — which is in the process of being set up — said there has been huge interest from both the private and commercial sectors in coming onboard for 2013.
While refusing to name names, Ms McGillion said: “We are talking to a real mix of different companies. It is important to us to have local indigenous businesses as well as international names for 2013 and beyond.
“BT is an international brand and that gives a strong level of confidence to anyone considering investing in the city.”
The new broadband technology coming to Derry provides a super-fast internet connection with the technology also being delivered as an open access solution, allowing all broadband service providers to link in.