Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (70)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

70. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which the provision of broadband in all areas nationally is progressing; if he anticipates the provision of services to the blank spaces between services within a reasonable time with particular reference to the recently announced national broadband plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21741/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) 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. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband. The NBP State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network over a 25 year period. The intervention area comprises approximately 540,000 premises and includes 1.1 million people. Following rigorous evaluation by the 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 this at its meeting on 7 May.

The Government decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to National Broadband Ireland, subject to the contract close, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

In the first year of this 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. A deployment plan will be made available by the bidder once the contract is signed. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by end of the second year of the overall deployment, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.