BT has been formally awarded a multi-million pound contract to deliver 100pc broadband coverage to Northern Ireland by the end of 2005 in a move that will make the North the leading broadband region in UK territory.
It is understood that BT beat off competition from 27 companies and consortia responding to a tender issued last year by the UK Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
The rollout will see broadband of a minimum access of 512Kbps to all households and businesses in the region by the end of next year. The contract is understood to be funded under the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme.
According to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, BT’s proposal was judged as offering the best value for money. The contract will also mean that businesspeople and home owners can chose to buy services from a total of 150 broadband service providers.
The contract is understood to be technology neutral and BT will retain ownership of the infrastructure going forward.
The UK’s minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Ian Pearson MP, commented: “By the end of 2005 every household and every business in Northern Ireland, no matter how remote, will have access to broadband at the same price. Local businesses will have the level playing field they need to compete in a global economy. This vitally important contract will deliver the Government’s broadband vision of a fully connected Northern Ireland. In turn it will help make Northern Ireland more competitive.”
He continued to say that the announcement “builds on government initiatives that are bringing Broadband to every school and library and the delivery of key government services electronically. I am very pleased to be able to say that Northern Ireland is now the leading Broadband region in Europe.”
By John Kennedy