I propose to take Questions Nos. 1205 and 1206 together.
The National Broadband Plan aims to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland has access to high speed broadband. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment across the country, and a State intervention in those areas where commercial operators acting alone are unlikely to invest.
In April 2017 my Department published an updated High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie . This map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the National Broadband Plan. The Map is colour coded and searchable by address or Eircode.
Since December 2015, the number of premises with access to high-speed broadband in Louth has increased by 6,885 a 10% increase. In total, the number of premises in Louth with access to high speed broadband is 51,993, 85% of total premises in the County. Another 381 will be served by eir under that company’s ongoing rural deployment.
The remaining 8,660 homes, schools and businesses in Louth will be connected under the Government’s National Broadband Plan.
The National Broadband intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. Following rigorous evaluation by my Department, I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to at its meeting on 7 May.
The Government Decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to Granahan McCourt, subject to the completion of the final contract arrangements. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after contract signature.
In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. By end of the second year or rollout over 123,000 properties will be passed, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed.
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 already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.