19 April 2014

Investment into faster broadband in rural areas announced

19/01/2011

Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has announced a further £2million investment in rural broadband through the Next Generation Broadband Network.

The project involves the introduction of new technology to increase broadband speeds in a number of rural areas.

Announcing the rural broadband investment, Minister Gildernew said: "Modern life has become very dependent on telecoms and rural areas are no different, with the rural population just as keen to grasp the mantle of the latest technology. Access to improved telecoms provides a key catalyst for rural businesses, communities, and a means of communication with the rest of the world for those isolated from urban centres.

"With broadband, smart phones and social networking all increasingly becoming integral parts of many people's everyday life, it is vital that rural communities are not left behind. I am constantly reminded by rural dwellers of the importance of good communications and of the increasing reliance many place on telecoms in their day to day lives. That is why I decided that funding specifically targeting rural areas should be made available from my Department to provide increased access to these services in rural areas."

As a result of this funding, BT has agreed to match the investment by providing a further £1million to upgrade an additional 40 cabinets. This combined investment of £2million will deliver increased access to next generation broadband services in rural areas. The investment roll-out will be completed by April 2011 under the terms of the current contract with BT, announced in December 2009.

Graham Sutherland, CEO, BT in Northern Ireland said: "Northern Ireland continues to lead the way in Europe for fibre enablement. This additional funding means that over 85% of businesses will have access to faster broadband speeds by April 2011, equipping them with next generation services that they can use to underpin their growth. The roll out of fibre outside the main urban areas is particularly important given the key role that communications can play in economic re-generation in rural areas by attracting foreign direct investment and stimulating home grown innovation and entrepreneurship."


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