Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (143)

Noel Harrington


143. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the poor broadband service experienced by residents and businesses in Skibbereen, County Cork, over the past few weeks will be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42556/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland’s telecommunications market has been fully liberalised since 1999 in accordance with the requirements of binding EU Directives. The provision of electronic communications services, including broadband services and the restoration of full services when faults occur are, in the first instance, matters for the service providers operating in Ireland’s fully liberalised telecommunications market, regulated by the independent regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Where customers are experiencing difficulties in relation to any aspect of their telecommunications/broadband service they should raise the matter with their service provider. Where this fails to resolve matters, they should refer it to ComReg who will investigate the issue.

The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market fails to deliver such services. The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses, including those in living in County Cork. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. In order to progress the State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained.

My Department is engaged in a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector to identify where the market is expected to deliver high speed broadband services over the coming years. The results of this mapping exercise will inform the precise areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan.

Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are ongoing. The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched in 2014.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I am committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland have access to high speed broadband, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in a digitally enabled society