Page last updated at 09:24 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Belfast gets superfast broadband

Fibre optic cable
Fibre optic cables will be laid, linking exchanges to street-side boxes

Nearly 30,000 homes and businesses in Belfast will be among the first to use BT's new superfast broadband.

From early 2010, users in the Balmoral exchange area will have speeds that are 10 times faster than most UK households now experience.

Balmoral was selected as one of 29 UK locations for the rollout of the 1.5bn super-fast broadband project.

Such speeds will allow family members to watch different HD films while others play online games.

The Balmoral area serves most of south and some of west Belfast. Initial speeds will be 40 megabits rising to 60 megabits.

Virgin Media already offers speeds of up to 50 megabits to a limited number of homes in Belfast.

As well as being able to download graphics and data much more quickly, users will benefit from substantially improved "upstream" speeds of up to 10 megabits, the highest in the UK.

Customers will be able to post videos, experience hi-definition video conferencing and enjoy interactive hi-definition gaming to the full.

Competitiveness

Frank McManus, head of Wholesale Service and Sales, BT said: "Broadband has been a vital part of the success story of Northern Ireland.

"Businesses are using it to boost their competitiveness and find new customers, whilst households are benefiting from new entertainment and educational opportunities.

"But we are still only at the start of a very fast journey - a journey in which super-fast broadband will play an ever more important role."

An announcement about which areas will receive superfast broadband next, is expected in the autumn.

DUP MLA Simon Hamilton, who sits on the the Stormont Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee member said it was good news for business:

"Superfast broadband can bring a competitive advantage to a company and help boost their business during challenging economic times."



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