The government and BT are to invest £48m in Northern Ireland's telecommunication network.
The Next Generation Broadband project, a partnership between BT and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), will see urban and rural areas receive minimum speeds of 10mbps and 2mbps respectively.
The investment programme will be rolled out over 18 months, with 85% of businesses receiving second-generation access speeds by May 2011.
Enterprise minister Arlene Foster said, "This is hugely significant. At a time of economic slowdown this multi-million pound injection has the potential to indirectly create up to 1,000 additional jobs per annum."
The investment, some £30m from BT and £18m from DETI, will fund the accelerated deployment of fibre optic cable and the upgrade of 166 exchanges that connect them.
The high-speed network will be opened up for use by BT's rivals, as the aim of the project was to stimulate the market, Foster said.
"It is essential that this asset is exploited to the full so that all of Northern Ireland can reap the benefits of a dynamic economy."
Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT, said, "I'm delighted to announce our long-term investment. Experience from across the globe has demonstrated that partnerships are a very effective way for new technology to be deployed."