Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 13:14 UK

Communications cable lands in NI

Map of proposed links for telecommunication cable
The cable will link Northern Ireland directly to the US

A transatlantic telecommunications cable which will connect Northern Ireland directly to the US for the first time has been brought ashore.

US company Hibernia Atlantic brought the submarine cable to Portrush in an operation over the weekend.

The cable deployment is part of Project Kelvin which will improve the speed and extent to which NI firms can trade information with the rest of the world.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said it was an "historic milestone".

"The new cable will connect Northern Ireland, for the first time, directly to North America and greatly improve connectivity with Europe," she said.

"When combined with the new terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure, currently under construction across Northern Ireland, it will put us at the heart of the global economy."

The minister urged local companies to take advantage of the benefits and opportunities the new international telecommunications cable would bring.

"Northern Ireland companies will have access to the same international telecommunications services as found in major cities including London, Amsterdam and New York.

"We are now firmly on the world telecoms map and I urge Northern Ireland companies to exploit the opportunities this will bring," she said.

The project connects Northern Ireland with the Hibernia North Transatlantic cable, located 22 miles off the north coast.

The fibre optic cable, which runs along the seabed, connects North America with Europe.

It will interconnect with Northern Ireland's existing telecoms infrastructure as well as that of the Republic of Ireland.

The project had attracted controversy over the location for a telehouse station, which will connect the cable to the existing telecom infrastructure.

The telehouse was planned for Londonderry and then moved to Coleraine, but the decision was reversed after a campaign by politicians and businessmen.

In February, the Trade Minister Arlene Foster confirmed the telehouse would be located in Derry.

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