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Internet service provider BT is to play a key role in improving Northern Ireland's high-speed broadband infrastructure, it has been reported.

The broadband provider has been contracted by the country's Department of Finance and Personnel to maximise coverage, bringing super-fast services to as many businesses and consumers as possible.

According to ZDNet, capital grant funding of £18 million has been made available in order to pay for broadband upgrades, with BT carrying out the technical work.

BT has been given specific targets on the rollout of services, as the department aims to equip 85 per cent of businesses with high-speed broadband by 2012.

The broadband provider will retain ownership of the broadband network in Northern Ireland, and will be responsible for maintaining it until at least 2014.

Arlene Foster, the country's Enterprise Minister, recently claimed that Northern Ireland "must keep pace" with the world of modern telecommunications.

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