Northern Ireland's 48 m broadband boost – SamKnows

Back in 2006, Northern Ireland proudly claimed to be the first region in Europe to benefit from 100% broadband coverage. This was achieved by equipping all telephone exchanges with DSL, and providing satellite broadband to anyone too far from the exchange to get speeds of at least 512 kpbs. The cost to the NI government: around 10 million.

Fast forward to 2009, and Northern Ireland is once more investing in broadband3.

This time the government expects to spend almost double the amount in a plan that focuses on bringing higher broadband speeds to local businesses clearly the authorties have an eye on the potential benefits to the digital economy. Arlene Foster announces 48 million Telecoms Investment - image courtesy DUP Following a competitive tender, BT has been contracted to deploy fibre-to-the-cabinet solutions to a majority of businesses with other fixed line solutions being used where appropriate.

The tender specified that businesses in urban areas should receive a minimum downstream speed of 10Mbps and ones in rural areas 2Mbps. In short it appears to be a half-sized version of the UK’s Digital Region project in South Yorkshire4. BT is contributing close to 30 million of its own money to the project, with a further 18 million coming from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI), under the European Regional Development Fund’s (ERDF) European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Rural Development Programme.

The project will bring fibre optic cable deeper into urban districts, towns, villages and countryside, along with upgrades to equipment across 166 exchanges, and provision of 1,176 new access points across Northern Ireland, says the NI government. Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster claimed that: “All of the technologies to be used will be fixed line with fibre being the predominant solution. There are few, if any, parts of the British Isles which will have anywhere near the amount of fibre that is going to be deployed in Northern Ireland, particularly in our rural areas.

“This project will leave a significant legacy. The extent of fibre deployment deep into the network will mean further evolutions of broadband will be easier for us to achieve in the future.” The roll out should be complete by May 2011.

Image: “Arlene Foster announces 48 million Telecoms Investment”.

Credit: Democratic Unionist Party



  1. ^ 100% broadband coverage (
  2. ^ providing satellite broadband (
  3. ^ Northern Ireland is once more investing in broadband (
  4. ^ Digital Region project in South Yorkshire (

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