BT has opened an R&D centre in Northern Ireland that will focus on improving areas including customer experience, cyber security and 5G communications.

The BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) will spend £28.6 million over the next five years looking into the roles that AI, data analytics and the IoT can play.

The UK-based operator said the centre would play a crucial role in its global R&D capability.

It will operate alongside an existing Global Development Centre in Belfast (pictured), BT Labs in Suffolk and what Howard Watson, BT Technology, Service and Operations CEO, described as “a global network of technology scouts”.

The launch includes joint research with Ulster University.

Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, said: “This ambitious industry partnership with BT is a unique collaboration opportunity.

“It builds upon two decades of our academic leadership in cognitive analytics and our recent £4 million investment in a new data analytics research institute.

“Computing and engineering at Ulster University is at the forefront of diverse research excellence in data science and networks, equipping us to play an integral role in transformative telecommunications.”

The centre is the latest in a slew of R&D initiatives that BT has announced in recent times.

Two weeks ago, it unveiled a new research group at the University of Cambridge with backing from Huawei.

November has also seen Watson join the board of the Facebook-led Telecoms Infrastructure Project.

Last month, BT signed an agreement to exchange data with crime agency INTERPOL as part of a new initiative to tackle cyber crime around the world.

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