SpeedEighty-five per cent of businesses in Northern Ireland now have access to superfast broadband after its Next Generation Broadband Project was completed on time and on budget.

The announcement by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster follows a £52 million* investment by BT, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI), the EU and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

The project was to ensure that 85 per cent of businesses in Northern Ireland have access to next generation broadband speeds by 2011.

This involved the deployment of fibre optic cable deeper into Northern Ireland’s urban districts, towns, villages and countryside and the upgrade of 166 exchanges.

Said Arlene Foster: “This is a tremendous asset for Northern Ireland. Broadband is an enabler. Use of these new services will help local businesses increase their productivity, improving the competitiveness of the economy as a whole.

It is now essential that our businesses take advantage of the exciting new opportunities this project creates so all of Northern Ireland can reap these benefits,” she said.

By March 2012 it’s expected that 89 per cent of phone lines in Northern Ireland will be connected to a fibre-enabled street cabinet.

 

* BT has invested close to £30 million in this pioneering initiative, with a further £16.5 million coming from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) and the EU under the ERDF Competitiveness Programme of which £10.5 million was invested in rural areas and £6 million in urban areas. Also £1.5 million has been invested from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) under the EU EAFRD Rural Development Programme. This has since attracted a further investment from DARD, DETI and BT totalling some £4 million.