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Theresa May's DUP deal includes £150m broadband boost for Northern Ireland

Monday, June 26th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The deal that will see the Democratic Unionists prop up a minority Conservative government includes a £150m broadband boost for Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster today finalised an agreement that will see DUP MPs back the Tories in key Commons votes.

As part of the deal, £1bn made available to fund infrastructure, health and education in Northern Ireland.

This includes £75m per year for the next two years to help provide ultrafast broadband for Northern Ireland.

The agreement also includes a commitment by the Conservatives to keep the universal winter fuel allowance and to make no changes to the pensions ‘triple lock’.

At the moment there is no detail on how that £75m a year will be spent.

Neither the Conservative nor DUP manifestos made any mention of ‘ultrafast’ broadband ahead of the general election.

The Tories repeated previous government pledges to reach 95% of UK premises with superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps) by the end of 2017.

They also talked about providing “gigaspeed connectivity” and said 10 million premises would be connected to full fibre networks within a decade.

The DUP’s Westminster manifesto promised to “develop a comprehensive Broadband Infrastructure Plan to roll out high speed internet connectivity across Northern Ireland”.

A report by Ofcom in December 2016 revealed that 63,000 properties in Northern Ireland (8% of homes and businesses) were unable to get broadband speeds above 10Mbps.

The regulator said this figure was down from 107,000, or 14%, in 2015.

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