Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (481)

Brendan Smith


481. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will outline the proposals, if any, there are to upgrade broadband connectivity throughout County Cavan with particular reference to the need to extend the national broadband scheme to those electoral divisions in the county where such service is not available at present; the likely timescale for the proposed roll-out of this particular scheme to the remaining electoral divisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31838/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The objective of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), which was launched in 2008, following a competitive tendering process, was to provide access to affordable, scalable broadband services to rural areas, where operators had been unable to offer services on a commercial basis.

In designing the Scheme, which was approved under EU State Aid rules, my Department undertook a comprehensive mapping exercise to assess the extent of broadband coverage available in the State in 2008. Following completion of the exercise a separate map based on electoral divisions (EDs), which are the smallest administrative areas used for statistical purposes in the country, was developed. Where an ED was completely or substantially served by existing service providers it was excluded from the NBS. Broadband services under the NBS are available since October 2010 from the NBS service provider, “3”, to persons with a fixed residence or fixed business in all of the designated NBS Electoral Divisions. In Cavan 48 out of the 93 EDs were identified as eligible for inclusion in the NBS, which are shown in the following table.

In July 2011 the Government launched a separate broadband initiative, namely the Rural Broadband Scheme (RBS). The RBS was established to enable a basic broadband service to be provided to individual rural premises, which were not capable of obtaining a broadband service from existing Internet service providers. 45 applicants from County Cavan received offers from service providers participating in this Scheme of which 11 accepted an offer of service.

With basic broadband services widely available across Ireland, the focus is now on accelerating the roll out of high speed services. The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August last, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed services of 30Mbps are available to all of our citizens and businesses, well in advance of the EU’s target date of 2020, and that significantly higher speeds are available to as many homes and businesses as possible.

During the preparation of Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, the commercial market operators indicated that they expect to provide 70Mbps to 100Mbps services to 50% of the population by 2015. Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and mobile high speed broadband services.

In tandem with these commercial developments, intensive work is underway in my Department to progress a State-led investment to secure the countrywide introduction of next generation broadband access.

In order to progress the State-led investment, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained. A comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector is being undertaken to identify where the market is expected to succeed and fail in the delivery of high speed broadband services over the coming years.

The results of this mapping exercise will inform the level of Government interaction that may be required and the areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment so as to deliver on the targets for high speed broadband contained in the National Broadband Plan.

Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations including stakeholder engagement will be ongoing throughout 2013 with a view to the launch of a procurement process in 2014.

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 businesses can participate fully in a digitally enabled society.

National Broadband Schemes (NBS)

Electoral Divisions (ED) covered by the NBS in County Cavan

ED Name

ED Reference No.


ED 27001


ED 27009


ED 27010


ED 27011


ED 27014


ED 27015


ED 27018


ED 27019


ED 27021


ED 27022


ED 27023


ED 27027


ED 27029


ED 27030


ED 27031


ED 27032


ED 27037


ED 27038


ED 27039


ED 27040


ED 27042


ED 27044


ED 27045


ED 27047


ED 27052


ED 27053


ED 27055