Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (486)

Joe McHugh


486. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will review broadband retention figures that were established with 3, 3.6mbps max on a ratio of 48:1; if he sees an opportunity in taking more bandwidth from a satellite company (details supplied); his views on a person's recent test results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32171/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The broadband service contracted under National Broadband Scheme (NBS) was designed as a basic, affordable, scalable product in keeping with EU State Aid clearance for the Scheme. Under the terms of the contract which my Department has in place with “3”, the NBS service provider, the NBS mobile wireless service is required to offer minimum download and upload speeds of 2.3Mbps and 1.4Mbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 18:1. The NBS satellite service, which is utilised in a small number of cases for technical reasons associated with the location of the premises, offers minimum download and upload speeds of 3.6Mbps and 384 kbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 48:1. The NBS satellite service was upgraded in July 2012 and there are no further upgrades foreseen within the NBS contract.

As regards service quality, my Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. The NBS contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on “3”, with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. The NBS contract 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.

Should any NBS customer experience problems with the NBS service, they are advised to contact 3’s customer care centre, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, by phone at 1913 (free of charge), via email to nbssupport@three.ie or by post to 3 Customer Services, Hutchison 3G Ireland Limited, PO Box 333, Dublin 2.

My Department has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and consider that their complaint has not been resolved. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie, with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service. My Department will then liaise with “3” personnel at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy any service performance issues. In this instance, the person referred to in the Question contacted my officials on Tuesday, 25th June last and the details of their complaint were forwarded directly to “3”. I understand that they, in turn, contacted the customer and have commenced a thorough investigation of the issues raised. My officials will remain in touch with “3” and the customer until such time as the service issues are resolved.