Belfast has been confirmed as one of 10 UK cities which will be able to apply for grants to install high speed broadband as part of a £100 million scheme to boost growth and exports.
Firms here and in cities such as Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and Manchester will be able to access grants worth up to £3,000 to improve their connections, with the scheme due to be extended to 12 more cities next year.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to give firms the ability to set up or locate anywhere in the UK.
The announcement is timed to coincide with the Small Business Saturday initiative promoting the firms Mr Cameron described as the “lifeblood of our economy”.
The Prime Minister said: “Up to £3,000 of broadband vouchers for small business in these cities is not only a massive boost for growth in the UK, but also has the potential to bring China to Cardiff, Brazil to Bristol and the Emirates to Edinburgh in an increased export market.
“As part of our economic plan, I want to give our small businesses every possible advantage to compete in the global race – and also the flexibility to locate or set up right across the UK.
“To do that we are working on a complete overhaul of the UK’s infrastructure; high speed broadband is a vital part of this.
“And on Small Business Saturday, what better way to support small businesses - the lifeblood of our economy - than to help kit them out for the 21st century.”