BT is spending £260m to create a new hi-tech communications network in Northern Ireland, the BBC has learned.
Work has already started across the UK on the project
The new communications system, known as the 21st Century Network, will power all of BT's telephone, broadband and ISDN services.
The company is spending £10bn on the project in the UK and Europe, with £260m of that invested in NI.
As part of the upgrade, NI's 160 local telephone exchanges will converge in three major hubs.
Two will be in Belfast and one in Portadown, County Armagh.
BT Managing Director Alastair Hamilton said the new network would have important benefits for businesses and help to attract more inward investors who demand high speed communications.
However, he added that domestic customers would also see an improvement in service - the system will triple the speed of broadband internet access.
Work has already started across the UK on the project, but Northern Ireland will be the first to complete its new network in 2010.