Northern Ireland

Belfast to become 'super-connected city' with broadband investment

The government is investing almost £14m in super-fast broadband in Belfast.

Belfast City Council previously secured £6m, but had to compete with 10 cities for this latest £7.7m funding to make it a "super-connected" city by 2015.

With the private sector investing £8m and the council £3m, about £25m is going towards creating an 80 to 100Mbps (megabits per second) citywide network.

As part of the investment, there are also plans to provide free wireless internet access throughout Belfast.

Councillor Deirdre Hargey said it was "one of the most significant announcements for Belfast and the wider regional economy for some time".

"It is a real game-changer as it will provide a world-class digital infrastructure that will attract major foreign investment, create jobs, and provide a platform for local business start-ups," she said.

"It also brings major benefits for communities, residents, tourists and public sector organisations."

The super-connected cities were first announced last year in Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement, when he pledged £100m to create 100Mbps (megabit per second) citywide networks in 10 urban areas.

The current average broadband speed in the UK is 9Mbps.

By 2015 it is hoped the investments in UK cities will provide ultra-fast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and high-speed wireless broadband for three million residents.

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