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Northern Ireland to get superfast shot in the arm from BT

BT will bring superfast broadband to 38,000 more locations across Northern Ireland following another injection of public cash. 

The UK’s biggest ISP is currently charged with making sure 45,000 properties across the region can access speeds of at least 24Mbps by the end of the year, under the terms of the Northern Ireland Improvement Project. 

While this will see most folks in Northern Ireland able to order superfast services by the end of 2015, there will still be some places in the margins that won’t be reached. 

Northern Ireland’s enterprise, trade and investment Minister, Arlene Foster announced that £17 million of extra funding, of which BT is contributing £3 million, to top up the existing £23.5 million pot. 

Mrs Foster said: “This announcement is a further step in improving superfast broadband services across Northern Ireland. It will bring more choice and improve speeds to over 38,000 premises. 

“The superfast rollout programme is another significant step in making superfast broadband services more widely available. It represents a joint investment of £17 million by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, the Department of Culture Media and Sport, as part of its Superfast Britain investment, and BT.”

Superfast broadband is loosely defined by the UK Government as any technology that delivers download speeds of at least 24Mbps. 

BT is rolling out FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) connections across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK – these currently deliver top download speeds of 80Mbps and 330Mbps respectively.

Inside the G.fast lab – take a tour of BT’s next-gen test bedBT recently connected its first customer in Northern Ireland to FTTP, replacing an old 0.5Mbps copper line with a 300Mbps+ fibre one. 

In the future, BT plans to increase the headline speeds possible on its network by introducing G.fast technology, which can has demonstrated download speeds of 500-700Mbps in trials. Previous tests have shown that its current FTTP lines are capable of providing download speeds of 10Gbps, though it’ll be a long time before we’ll be able to (or even need) bandwidth like that. 

The Northern Ireland Improvement Project is one of the many BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) schemes set up by the UK Government. Designed to turbo-charge Britain’s broadband connections, BDUK aims to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of premises by 2017 and 98 per cent by 2018. 

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