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Businesses can generate £750 million in additional revenue for the Northern Irish economy by 2018 if they embrace fibre broadband, it has been claimed.

Research commissioned by BT investigated the benefits of super-fast broadband across a number of sectors - including creative and digital, financial, retail and advanced manufacturing.

These were then compared with a sample of similar sectors in the United States, in order to gauge the potential benefits of using next-generation networks in the Six Counties.

As well as generating over £750 million in additional revenue by 2018, the study found fibre broadband could save £45 million in operating costs.

Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the report, saying there are "opportunities to be seized" by local companies across many business sectors.

"The findings confirm that the investments that have been made in the telecoms infrastructure by the executive can help boost the local economy," she stated.

"Significant investment has also been made by BT to push fibre-optic technology deep into rural areas across Northern Ireland and as a result we are now one of the best connected areas in Europe."

Colm O’ Neill, Chief Executive of BT in Northern Ireland, said the aim in conducting the research was to evaluate the potential available across the various sectors through the take-up of fibre broadband. 

"There are clear indications that across many sectors there is room for significant growth," he stated.

“We are in the enviable position in Northern Ireland of having available to us a world class fibre network that is ahead of the UK and Europe in terms of availability."

Mr O’ Neill claimed that "significant investment" has been made by BT Ireland, both through direct investment as part of BT Group’s £2.5 billion fibre rollout in the UK and in its partnership with the Northern Ireland government for the Next Generation Broadband Project.

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