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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 15:59 GMT
Broadband coverage 'now NI wide'
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The internet can help companies establish worldwide markets
Northern Ireland has become the first region in Europe to have 100% access to high speed internet, according to the government.

The announcement was made by Enterprise Minister Angela Smith on a visit to the MJM Group, a specialist joinery company in Rathfriland, County Down.

Almost 10m of European funding has been invested to make broadband universally available in NI.

"This is a significant achievement for Northern Ireland," she said.

"Every household, business, school and library in Northern Ireland will be able to access broadband regardless of their location."

On Monday, Hugo Wilson, chief executive of the MJM Group, said the availability of broadband in Rathfriland had played an integral part in the expansion of their business.

Business

"It would have been impossible to have achieved our export growth without broadband internet access which came to Rathfriland in 2004," he said.

Alastair Hamilton, director of BT Business, said the significance of broadband could not be understated.

He said: "Now that 100% availability has been achieved our next big challenge is to utilise broadband and the benefits it brings.

"Northern Ireland has led the race for broadband availability - now we must set the pace for take-up and usage."

The BBC has received complaints from some people in rural areas of Northern Ireland that they cannot get the broadband service down their telephone line and that they have to pay more for broadband via a satellite link.

But Mr Hamilton said they would continue work to improve the technology.

"There are quite a few people who have access to broadband in lots of different ways," he said.

"Whenever you talk about conventional means, yes, the majority of people are connected on their telephone line, ADSL on their telephone line.

"There's a small number of people that we connect by different means, everything from radio to satellite communication.

"So, in terms of delivering a complete service across the country, we do that today. Yes, I would like to see more and more people get access across their ordinary telephone line and we continue to drive a programme to do that.

"Today's not the end of that. We continue to drive new technology out into the market place not only to be able to access those people, but the second stage is to be able to drive the access speed up."




SEE ALSO:
NI's broadband supplier chosen
05 Feb 04 |  Northern Ireland
High-speed net plans launched
22 Jul 03 |  Northern Ireland


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