BT completes Northern Ireland fibre broadband project
Northern Ireland's multimillion-pound fibre optic broadband scheme has been completed on schedule and on budget, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) has announced.
BT has invested almost £30 million in the Next Generation Broadband Project over the past 18 months, while £16.5 million has come from the DETI and the European Regional Development Fund's Competitiveness Programme.
Under the contract, BT was tasked with deploying fibre broadband deeper into Northern Ireland, with 166 home phone exchanges earmarked for upgrade work and 1,265 new access points rolled out.
The construction work was finished in April, bringing faster internet connectivity to 85 per cent of businesses across the country.
Employers located in rural areas covered by the project now have access to minimum speeds of 2Mbps, while those in urban districts are enjoying download rates of at least 10Mbps. However, many firms are actually seeing faster speeds than these figures, particularly companies that are near to the fibre broadband access points.
Graham Sutherland, chief executive of BT Northern Ireland, said nine in ten phone lines will be hooked up to a fibre-enabled street cabinet by March 2012.
He described this achievement as "exceptional progress" that will place the country ahead of many of its European rivals in terms of broadband connectivity.
"The pioneering and highly innovative Next Generation Broadband Project by the DETI is a key chapter in this fibre broadband story," Mr Sutherland commented.
"BT is proud to have played a key role in this landmark initiative, both in terms of investment and successful delivery, and is impressed by the strong demand and positive testimonials we have seen to date."
Earlier this year, BT confirmed its commitment to delivering fibre optic broadband to 100 per cent of premises in Derry by this autumn as part of a five-year partnership with the city. Approximately 21,000 households and 6,000 businesses will be covered by the deployment.