Northern Ireland is being linked to the rest of the world by an underwater communications cable for the first time.

The country will be tapping into a fiber optic cable that links North America with Europe. A new 22-mile extension will be built from an existing cable and will come ashore near Portrush in Northern Ireland.

TransAtlantic submarine cable provider Hibernia Atlantic said on Tuesday it has been selected to deploy the new cable.

The $41.3 mln. Project will be jointly funded between the department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) for Northern Ireland and the Department Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) for the Republic of Ireland as part of Project Kelvin.

The investment would provide opportunities for Northern Ireland companies selling goods and services overseas and also improve our attractiveness to knowledge based inward investment, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said.

Hibernia intends to connect the new system to its existing network by installing a branching unit in its northern transAtlantic cable, providing two secure routes, one from Northern Ireland to Canada and the US and another from Northern Ireland into the UK.

The submarine cable will also be linked to an international carrier hotel or telehouse facility in Coleraine, which will provide further access to other service providers and Hibernia Atlantic's new network Points of Presence (PoPs).

The new extension will improve the speed and extent to which citizens and companies in the country can communicate with the rest of the world.