Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (497)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

497. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the national broadband plan in view of the large number of persons in rural areas who are without a broadband service. [16274/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I intend to bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through Local Authority Broadband Officers is continuing. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.