Northern Ireland promises 10Mbps broadband

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is surpassing the Digital Britain pledge and speeding up its broadband infrastructure for businesses to 10Mbps.

The new plans aim to connect 85 per cent of the country's businesses to high speed broadband by 2011, but unfortunately the higher speed will only apply to those in urban areas.

Rural businesses can expect to receive a minimum of 2Mbps, but this is still a year ahead of the promise on the mainland UK.

The investment of 48 million was announced by the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster. It has been funded by almost 30 million from BT and the remaining 18 million from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment, along with a number of European funds for the development of rural areas.

Foster said in a statement: "Broadband is an enabler use of these new services will enable our businesses to increase their productivity, improving the competitiveness of the economy as a whole."

"In order to do so, it is essential that our businesses take advantage of the exciting new opportunities this project creates so all of Northern Ireland can reap these benefits."

The project will see BT installing fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology across the country with upgrades to equipment across 166 exchanges and 1,176 new access points.

Foster continued: "All of the technologies to be used will be fixed line with fibre being the predominant solution. There are few, if any, parts of the British Isles which will have anywhere near the amount of fibre that is going to be deployed in Northern Ireland, particularly in our rural areas."

Ian Livingstone, chief executive of BT called the move "a bold and visionary step in Northern Ireland's next generation broadband journey."

The plans were also welcomed by the country's Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP.

She said in a statement: "I hope this project will overcome the barriers some rural communities currently face in accessing broadband. It is increasingly an important means of ensuring access to services and social inclusion for those living in rural areas."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.