£50million in Next Generation Broadband announced (15/12/09)
15 December 2009
The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle Gildernew has said that the investment of almost £50million in Next Generation Broadband will be a great boost to towns, villages and the entire rural community across the north of Ireland.
The investment which includes a £1.5million contribution from DARD will see a big improvement in the telecommunications infrastructure with the introduction over the next 18 months of new technology to increase broadband speeds.
The Minister said: "This announcement will be well received throughout the north as it will bring higher speed broadband to many by 2011. It is something which will be warmly welcomed by farmers and rural dwellers as there are some who have difficulties in accessing the technology at the moment. It will be a big advance and I welcome the fact that DARD and I have been able to play our part by investing around £1.5million. It will make a real difference to the rural economy.
"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. It is my role to champion rural issues across the Executive and I think this initiative is an excellent step forward.
"Access to high speed high quality broadband services is an important tool in supporting rural businesses to maintain their competitiveness and develop new market opportunities.
"Accessible rural broadband is also increasingly important as a means of ensuring access to services and social inclusion for those living in rural areas throughout the north of Ireland. This project is an example of which can be achieved from Departments and agencies working together to improve equality of services in both rural and urban areas."
BT is investing £29million with further input coming from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the EU.
The contract will involve the deployment of more fibre optic cable deeper into urban districts, towns, villages and countryside. There will be upgrades to equipment across 157 exchanges and the introduction of new technology to increase broadband speeds to businesses.
Notes to editors:
The project will involve the deployment of more fibre optic cable deeper into our urban districts, towns, villages and countryside, upgrades to equipment across 157 exchanges, provision of 1,176 new access points across the north, and the introduction of new technology to increase broadband speeds to consumers.
The project is expected to be complete by May 2011, by which time 85% of businesses here will see the benefits of this investment.
BT’s principal activities include networked IT services, local, national and international telecommunications services, and higher-value broadband products and services.
The contract will deliver a minimum of two Mbps to those businesses located in Lot 1 and 10 Mbps to those businesses in Lot 2. However many businesses will experience higher speeds then this especially those located close to the access points.
All media enquiries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.