Belfast Telegraph

Minister backs Belfast's super-connection

By Clare Weir

Belfast is to become a 'super-connected' city thanks to a £100m urban broadband fund announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement.

Belfast is one of four named cities under George Osborne's initiative and up to six additional UK cities have the opportunity to source funding through a separate competition element of the scheme.

BT and Virgin Media have now committed to strengthening their networks by offering broadband services with 80-100Mbps potential.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the development of economic infrastructure is critical to rebuilding the economy.

"This will encourage new businesses to flourish in key creative industries requiring super-connectivity, and allow home-grown businesses to compete globally," she said.

"Our challenge is to ensure that we secure an allocation which allows the city to continue its development as a telecoms exemplar. I would encourage Londonderry, Newry and Lisburn to consider their telecommunications ambitions and to ensure that they participate in this competition.

"It is for each city to decide the geographical area covered by their plans and to set out their ambitions. This will require innovative thinking on ways in which super-connectivity can contribute to digital infrastructure-led growth."

The minister said the urban fund won't come at the expense of rural broadband provision.

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