NI most 'digitally connected region in UK'

Following a successful UK-first trial of 5G technology, Belfast Harbour aims to become the world's best regional smart port. Credit: PA

Northern Ireland is the most digitally connected region in the UK, according to BT.

More than half of premises can access full-fibre ultra-fast broadband.

Head of public affairs Mark Dames for the company said investment in broadband infrastructure has been key to connecting Northern Ireland internally and with the rest of the world.

Throughout the pandemic we have seen how technology can be harnessed to help save lives and deliver even better services for the public.

Mark Dames, BT

Mr Dames added: "Northern Ireland is at the top of the charts as the most digitally connected region in the UK, with more than half of premises already connected to gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband.

"When combined with our extensive 5G mobile network from EE, this digital infrastructure will help drive future economic growth."

In addition to our mobile and broadband networks, we have the UK's most extensive public wifi network and are bringing these three networks into one converged, digital platform.

Mark Dames

Following a successful UK-first trial of 5G technology by BT and Belfast Harbour, a partnership will deliver a series of 5G-led innovations to accelerate Belfast Harbour's ambition to become the world's best regional smart port.

Mr Dames added: "The partnership will stimulate innovation across transport, logistics, public safety, physical security and sustainability.

"In a UK and Ireland first, BT will build and manage a live 5G private network designed specifically to achieve the highest levels of ultrafast mobile connectivity, coverage, reliability and security across the port's main operational areas."

The telecommunications company employs one in every four workers in the IT and communications sector in Northern Ireland.

A total of 7,270 jobs are supported directly and indirectly.

It has a £155 million annual supply chain spend in Northern Ireland.

Mr Dames added: "We support employment across every part of the region through our direct workforce, and indirectly through our extensive supply chain, with our procurement and expenditure in the local economies.

"For the period 2019/20 the total gross value added (GVA) to the Northern Ireland economy, combining the direct, indirect and induced impacts of our activities and spending, is estimated to be £660 million."