MASSIVE BT BOOST FOR CULTURE YEAR

BT is to make Derry the digital champion of the UK and Ireland as part of a multimillion pound partnership with the City of Culture team.

The global telecommunications company and IT services provider announced yesterday that Derry is to become the first city on these islands to benefit from 100% availability of faster broadband speeds.

The move has been hailed as a major boost in attracting investment to the city.

BT has committed to spending 3m by this Autumn to fast track the plan by deploying fibre on all of the city's street cabinets to boost broadband speeds.

The move is part of a five year partnership with the City of Culture to help accelerate Derry's regeneration plans in readiness for the 2013 celebrations.

Under the terms of the agreement, approximately 21,000 households and 6,000 businesses will have access to super fast broadband.

In addition to upgrading the telecommunications infrastructure, BT has pledged to work closely with the City of Culture team to address the digital divide and help provide Derry residents with the tools and skills to cement the region as a 'digital hub'. It has also committed to pumping resources into marketing Derry's cultural status globally.

Graham Sutherland, CEO BT Northern Ireland, said that Derry's digital communications strategy "is very much aligned to BT's strategy to encourage the adoption of technology to transform the lives and livelihoods of individuals and businesses".

"We're very excited to work with the City of Culture team, ILEX, Derry City Council and all those involved with the programme to ensure that our ambitious plans for the North-West are achieved and will leave a lasting legacy," he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Culture Company 2013, Interim Chairperson, Declan McGonagle said it was the "perfect partnership" to transform Derry into a creative and connected digital city.

Derry's Mayor Colum Eastwood said the partnership reinforces the city's image as a location "at the forefront of the digital revolution".

Aideen McGinley, Chief Executive of ILEX, said the move strengthened the city's status as "a crucible of digital connectivity and creativity" - a key aspect of the plans for the regeneration of the city.