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Consultation Response - Northern Ireland Broadband Improvement Project

Northern Ireland - An innovative world-class telecommunications region in Europe

Although located on the periphery of both the UK and Europe, Northern Ireland has access to the full range of world class telecommunications services enabling it to compete in the global economy. Working with the telecommunications industry, an extremely effective core telecommunications infrastructure has been created here.

Over 20 years ago we became the first region in Europe to have a fully fibre core network, and since then a second fully fibre ring has been built around Northern Ireland.

Our local access networks are also very strong - in 2005 Northern Ireland became the first region in Europe to have 100% access to first generation broadband (512kbps). However telecommunications is a fast moving market and the focus is increasingly on access to 'next generation' broadband. Demand for higher broadband speeds is increasing.

We recognised that connectivity is a basic requirement for the development of a knowledge-based economy as well as a necessity for the adoption and usage of information and communication technologies. Broadband is of strategic importance due to its ability to accelerate the contribution of these technologies to economic growth, to facilitate innovation and in order to enhance social inclusion.

The Programme for Government (PfG) sets out a number of strategic priorities for Northern Ireland during the period 2008-2011 to pursue an innovative and productive economy and a fair society. PfG envisages that a successful economy will be "characterised by high productivity, a highly skilled and flexible workforce and employment growth" to which telecommunications will play a key role. DETI's telecommunications initiatives are currently focused on 3 key areas:

• International connectivity

• Delivery of next generation network infrastructure

• Broadband stimulation

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