03/12/2009

Broadband Boosts Rural NI

A fresh investment of almost £50m in 'Next Generation Broadband' will be a great boost to towns, villages and the entire rural community across Northern Ireland.

According to Stormont Agriculture & Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew, this fillip includes a £1.5million contribution from her department and will see a big improvement in the telecommunications infrastructure.

It will allow the introduction over the next 18 months of new technology to increase broadband speeds.

"This will be well received throughout 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 I have been able to play our part by investing around £1.5million. It will make a real difference to the rural economy," she said.

"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," she continued.

"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 £29m 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.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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