Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (153)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

153. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the requirements of the national broadband scheme in respect of quality of service to customers availing of the broadband service; if his Department or ComReg is responsible for the oversight of this scheme to ensure the service meets the required standard of service and speed and is not subject to contention at times of high usage which leaves the service below the standards set out by the Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45406/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The broadband service contracted under National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is a basic, affordable, scalable product in keeping with EU State Aid clearance for the Scheme in September 2007. Under the terms of the contract which my Department has in place with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (trading as “3”), the NBS mobile wireless service currently offers 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.

My Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Throughout the contract period, network utilisation and performance data is submitted by “3” to my Department on a monthly basis. 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.