15/01/2002

Empey unveils rural internet access programme

Economy Minister Sir Reg Empey has unveiled a new scheme to provide rural businesses with fast internet access using satellite technology.

The technology, known as “affordable broadband services” (ADSL) was previously only available to companies in the Greater Belfast area and some larger towns in Northern Ireland.

However, the new pilot programme, which will be spearheaded by IRTU (Industrial Research and Technology Unit) in collaboration with the Information Age Initiative, will see the delivery of such broadband satellite services throughout Northern Ireland in line with government aims for improving business competitiveness.

Professor Fabian Monds, Chairman of the Information Age Initiative commented: "Broadband has enormous potential to benefit businesses throughout Northern Ireland, by providing access to new markets and services.

“This proposal is therefore very much in line with the Information Age Initiative’s aims, which are to encourage all businesses, both large and small, to use the new technologies and to develop a thriving, competitive ICT sector. It is a very welcome development."

The programme intends to support up to 250 companies over the next 18 months. Some of the satellite companies providing this new service are BT, Tiscali, Aramiska and Beam. (CL)

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