Thousands of rural properties in Northern Ireland to receive faster broadband
Almost 100,000 more properties could receive ultrafast broadband in Northern Ireland, most of them in rural areas.
The Department for the Economy (DfE) has launched a procurement for Project Stratum, its £165 million broadband rollout scheme.
The project, funded from the DUP's confidence and supply agreement with the Tories, seeks to improve connectivity for those with no access to services of at least 30 megabits per second.
CBI Northern Ireland director Angela McGowan said the rollout will do "wonders for businesses struggling with sluggish speeds, which have a knock-on effect for productivity".
Last year, the CBI set up the Northern Ireland Broadband Industry Forum, working closely with industry providers and the DfE to ensure this broadband improvement scheme will bring significant economic benefits to households and business.
Ms McGowan added: "With further industry support and investment, this project will deliver infrastructure that is fit for the future and could potentially benefit the local economy to the tune of £1.2 billion."
The DfE's permanent secretary, Noel Lavery, said: "The additional £150 million broadband funding allows us to build on the broadband connectivity achievements to date, given that some 108,000 premises have benefited from recent interventions.
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"I do recognise, however, that there remains many rural areas across Northern Ireland where broadband access remains unsatisfactory and that this is continuing to have an impact on citizens and businesses within our rural communities.
"The rollout of Project Stratum, including additional assistance of £15 million from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, will help ensure that more people than ever in rural areas have access to good quality broadband."