Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (466)

Thomas P. Broughan


466. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will report on the Irish fibre-to-the-building broadband sector; his views on whether there is sufficient choice available for Irish broadband users in the MDU sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8319/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Approximately €1 billion is being invested in Ireland by existing companies in fibre infrastructure which will deliver broadband speeds of 30 Mbps to 150 Mbps bits per second to most homes and businesses. This investment will provide significant choice to the consumer. While fibre to the home (FTTH) is currently not widely available to homes and multi-dwelling units (MDUs) in Ireland, broadband networks, which are serviced by fibre, are increasingly providing high speed services to the home:

- Eircom is currently investing up to €500 million in a phased deployment of fibre to the cabinet infrastructure, which is planned to make high-speed broadband available to 1.15 million premises by December 2014. The network has already reached more than 200,000 premises and is expected to be launched in 2013,

- UPC is investing €500 million its cable and fibre network, which is delivering speeds of up to 150 Mbps to homes and MDUs. UPC Aims to have this service available to 700,000 homes by 2015.

- BT is trialling Fibre to the Cabinet technologies that will deliver broadband at up to 80 Mbps. BT provides this infrastructure to Vodafone and Sky.

- Mobile telecommunications operators will be rolling out advanced mobile broadband products in 2013, following the recent multi-band spectrum auction with the explosion in the use of smart phones and tablet devices, the use of advanced mobile broadband is of increasing significance and it is expected that fibre connections will be required to service many of the base stations that transmit mobile signals.

Many of these developments were signaled in the Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August last. The commercial market operators indicated that they expect to provide 70 Mbps to 100 Mbps services to 50% of the population by 2015. The Government is also committed in the Plan to investing in areas where high speed services are not commercially viable and will not be provided by the market. My Department is making preparations to commence a formal national mapping exercise to identify where the market is expected to succeed and fail in the delivery of high speed broadband over the coming years. This will inform the level of Government interaction that may be required and the areas that need to be targeted for a State-led investment. It will also form a critical input to an EU State Aid application in respect of any State-led intervention.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, we are committed to increasing the availability of next generation speeds significantly, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and business can participate fully in a digitally enabled society. In this context, the Government is committed to the delivery of the speeds referred to in the Plan, to ensure that all parts of Ireland will have at least 30 Mbps connectivity.