Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (14)

Martin Ferris

Question:

14. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a breakdown of the average broadband speed by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35022/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, has established a callcosts website which provides information to the public on the alternative broadband services marketed by competing service providers on a county by county basis. ComReg does not publish averages of the available broadband speeds.

The ESRI published a working paper last year, based on the callcosts data, which compared median broadband speeds marketed by county across Ireland. The report, concluded that the number of broadband plans, download speeds and prices were relatively comparable across all counties in Ireland, whilst concluding that there were variations in speed within counties, especially in more rural areas of the country.

Since the publication of the ESRI report, investments by the commercial sector are underway in cable, fixed line and mobile high speed broadband services, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas.

The variation in access to higher broadband speeds is therefore more likely to be a consequence of residing in an urban, suburban or rural area rather than any assessment of average or median broadband speeds on a county basis.

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 are available to all of our citizens and businesses. For rural areas in particular this will mean much higher speeds.

During the preparation of the National Broadband Plan, the commercial market operators indicated that they expect to provide high speed broadband services to 50% of the population by 2015. In tandem with these commercial developments, intensive work is underway in my Department to progress a State-led investment to secure countrywide access to next generation broadband services by ensuring high speed broadband is accessible in the less densely populated areas.

My officials have commenced a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector to identify where the market is expected to succeed and, more importantly, to identify those areas of the country where the competitive market will not deliver high speed services.

The results of this mapping exercise will identify the level of Government intervention that may be required and the areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment so as to deliver on the target for high speed broadband services access for to all.

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.