The Broadband Improvement Project in the North, which received investment from the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (DARD), has begun today.

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has said its investment of £5m sterling will be targeted directly at rural areas of high deprivation that currently have no access to broadband.

“Now that this project is up and running I will ensure the £5m sterling investment that DARD is contributing to it will go to those areas which have suffered from a lack of broadband in the past. I am confident that effective access to broadband will greatly help those rural businesses and communities who have been disadvantaged, to benefit from technology that has been available to other parts of the North.”

She continued: “I want to see as many rural hotspots enabled for broadband as possible so that rural dwellers can benefit from at least 2Mbps of broadband services to all premises. This investment follows the next-generation broadband investment, and I am aware that more than 14,400 rural dwellers across the North directly benefited from the department’s previous investment of £2.5m sterling.”

The minister added: “It is my hope that this project will help deliver wider, more effective and equitable access to broadband will be a boost to economic recovery in our countryside.”

The Broadband Improvement Project major is a £24.5m sterling investment that will see BT deliver improved broadband technologies and infrastructure across the North. DARD is contributing £5m from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development and from DARD monies.