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Belfast cross-city WiFi bid needs citizen support

Belfast is calling on its citizens to register their support to win funding for a cross-city WiFi network and ultrafast broadband connections.

Belfast City HallThe Northern Ireland capital has won £6million from the UK’s Super Connected Cities fund, but has its eyes on a further £7.7m to build its ambitious network.

Belfast City Council plans to have complete city-wide superfast broadband at up to 80Mbps by 2015, and more than 100Mbps available to businesses which need it.

There will also be WiFi coverage across the city centre and at transport hubs, conference venues and other key locations.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Gavin Robinson, said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to place Belfast at the leading edge of technology across Europe and give us the infrastructure to build successful international businesses and attract further foreign direct investment.

“This is not just a Belfast City Council bid – this will benefit the entire city and we need all to declare their support urgently as the closing date is just around the corner at the end of July.”

The council needs to prove there’s public demand to win the extra funding, so it’s set up a survey for citizens to register their support.

The council`s strategic policy and resources committee chair, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, who is leading the bid, said: “By 2015, we aim to have citywide access to a network providing high speed ultrafast capacity to meet the demands of creative industries which send large volumes of data.

“This is becoming essential for businesses in areas such as film, music, games and digital content.

“We also aim to provide our citizens with the relevant skills and knowledge to take full advantage of the technology with the objective of transforming the way public services are delivered.

“Most importantly, this transformation will build on the city`s growing reputation as a world class place to visit, work, live and invest.

“It will enable our business to grow and become more profitable, provide more opportunities for our young and unemployed people and improve quality of life for all our citizens, including the elderly.”