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BT's new plans to launch fibre-optic broadband services across Northern Ireland have been welcomed by a minister.

Arlene Foster, the country's enterprise minister, has stated that the proposals to offer improved connection speeds to households by the end of the summer highlights "very welcome investment".

Speeds of up to 40Mb will be made available to homes served by the 167 exchanges which will offer super-fast broadband in the country by the end of the upgrades.

Ms Foster has claimed Northern Ireland "must keep pace" with the world of modern telecommunications.

She added: "When the next-generation broadband project has been completed, few, if any, parts of the British Isles will have anywhere near the amount of fibre that will be deployed in Northern Ireland by 2011."

Earlier this week, Dorset County Council confirmed it is urging businesses to back plans that would see BT fibre-optic broadband technology installed permanently in the region.

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