Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (405)

Catherine Murphy


405. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of the company and type of technology being used to deliver broadband in each primary school by county; the expected bandwidth down and up; the installation status of same (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14075/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available, subject to the commercial sensitivities in relation to the management and operation of the Schools Broadband Access Programme.

Through the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary and post primary schools, and some 98% of schools are included in this scheme. All post-primary schools and some special schools are now included in the 100Mbps programme.

The policy of my Department is to offer the best quality connectivity to all schools in line with the technical solutions available in the market and financial constraints. Broadband capacity can vary due to geographical location and local infrastructure, and thus impact on the service that can be provided.

Under the current primary schools programme the Department continually reviews the availability of services and upgrades schools where the opportunity arises, in line with contractual and budgetary requirements. Some 1,400 primary schools are currently on download speeds of 30Mbps or greater (the baseline download speed required under the National Broadband Plan). This is a significant improvement over recent years, given that less than 100 primary schools were on those speeds in 2012. Further schools are likely to be upgraded to those speeds in 2019, through EIR's 300K Rural Deployment commitment.

The need to improve broadband connectivity to primary schools is recognised in the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, and access to high speed broadband is one of the indicators identified in the Digital Strategy Action Plan. An interdepartmental working group has been established to determine how best to address broadband connectivity to primary schools in collaboration with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in the context of the National Broadband Plan and the Intervention Strategy, and proposed industry provision.