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Telecommunications Services.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 30 November 2004

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Questions (205, 206, 207, 208)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the efforts he has made to advance broadband facilities for businesses in the Bantry area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31485/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter for the fully liberalised private sector as regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation. In response to underinvestment by the sector in the late 1990s in the infrastructure necessary to deliver broadband nationwide, the Government set aside an indicative €200 million under the National Development Plan 2000-2006. These moneys are aimed to fund creation of high-speed fibre infrastructure in towns and cities to facilitate the provision of broadband by private sector companies. A total of 19 metropolitan area fibre networks, or MANs, have already been built and a further seven are under construction. The networks are being managed independently on an open-access basis and offer the service providers access to high-bandwidth services at competitive costs. The MANs which have been completed are already carrying commercial traffic.

Phase 2 of the programme, which is now under way, will see the rollout of broadband infrastructure to over 90 towns with populations of 1,500 and to others which are not being provided with broadband by private telecommunications companies. Calls for proposals have issued in respect of 41 of those towns, including Bantry, and it is expected that contracts will be in place before the end of this year. Proposals will be sought for the remaining towns in the new year.

There are encouraging signs that the availability of broadband is increasing rapidly. A number of firms are advertising the availability of broadband connectivity anywhere in the country which is provided using a variety of delivery platforms including fibre, wireless, satellite and digital subscriber lines. Details of these firms, including prices and contact numbers, can be found on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

253 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he has satisfied himself that sufficient competition has been generated in the provision of broadband facilities nationwide to meet the desired requirements and objectives; if he intends to issue directives in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31486/04]

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The telecommunications sector is fully liberalised and operates as an open market which is regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation. The question of competition in the market is a matter for the regulator.

In association with local authorities, my Department's regional broadband programme is investing an indicative €200 million of Government and European regional development fund finance in the provision of high-speed networks in towns and cities to facilitate the provision of broadband services by the private sector. A total of 19 metropolitan area networks have been completed and a further seven are under construction. The completed MANs are already carrying commercial traffic. The programme includes plans to provide high-speed infrastructure in more than 90 towns with populations of 1,500 and over.

The increasing availability of broadband in recent months has been most encouraging. A number of firms are now advertising broadband availability in any location in Ireland. My Department's website, www.broadband.gov.ie, gives full details of the service providers, prices and services on offer.

Question No. 254 answered with QuestionNo. 86.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

255 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when he expects broadband facilities to be available nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31488/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

256 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the regions throughout the country which already have broadband services or are likely to so do in the next 12 months; the areas likely to come on-stream after that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31489/04]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 256 together.

The availability of broadband is increasing as service providers extend the range of services on offer using broadband delivery technologies such as digital subscriber lines, satellite, wireless and cable. A number of telecommunications companies are vigorously marketing broadband in all areas of the country. Full details of the companies and the services on offer can be found on my Department's website www.broadband.gov.ie.

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