Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (401)

Noel Harrington


414 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will appoint a senior technical official to liaise with a person (details supplied) in County Cork with regard to providing them with broadband under the rural broadband scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34786/12]

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

The person to whom the Deputy refers is in receipt of a broadband service through the National Broadband Scheme (NBS).

By way of background, my Department entered into a contract with 3, a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the NBS in late December 2008, following the conclusion of a competitive dialogue procurement process. The objective of the NBS is to deliver broadband to certain target areas in Ireland in which broadband services were deemed at the time to be insufficient. Since October 2010, broadband services are available in all of the 1,028 Electoral Divisions (ED) designated to be covered under the Scheme.

A further Government initiative, namely the Rural Broadband Scheme (RBS), was launched last year in recognition of the fact that despite the widespread availability of broadband throughout Ireland, there still remained individual premises that were unable to receive broadband provision, due to technical difficulties such as line of sight issues. This Scheme, which is being rolled out this year, is aimed at making a basic broadband service available to those individual un-served premises in rural non-NBS areas who wish to avail of such services. Since the person to whom the Deputy refers resides in a designated NBS area, they are not eligible for consideration under the RBS.

With regard to service quality under the NBS, my Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Under the NBS contract, specific service level agreement (SLA) standards are in place, which define the service and support levels to be provided by 3 to NBS subscribers. The NBS contract imposes a service credit regime on 3, with financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. It also provides that where NBS customers do not receive the minimum guaranteed service as set out in the terms and conditions of their contract, they are entitled to service rebates. My Department liaises very closely with 3 to ensure that any issues relating to service performance, which are brought to its attention are addressed as quickly as possible. It operates a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers who have fully utilised 3's established complaints process can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service.

The individual concerned has not previously contacted my Department in relation to any complaints relating to their NBS service but my officials have now made contact with them and are liaising with 3 on their behalf to assist in the speedy resolution of these service issues.

Question No. 415 answered with Question No. 413.