Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (97)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

97. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes in counties Sligo and Leitrim that are in the amber intervention area for the national broadband plan; when the roll out of the plan will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21482/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The purpose of the National Broadband Plan is to ensure that over 1.1 million of our citizens in rural Ireland have the same opportunity to participate in the digital society as citizens living in urban areas. The availability of ubiquitous high speed broadband will bring significant benefits in areas of e-Health, e-Education, smart farming, regional development and tourism. 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.

Information on categories of specific premises can be accessed on my Department’s website, www.broadband.gov.ie, by entering the relevant Eircode into the NBP High Speed Broadband Map.

There are 40,092 premises in Co Sligo. 14,314 (36%) fall within the AMBER or State intervention area of the NBP High Speed Broadband Map.

There are 22,338 premises in Co Leitrim. 11,297 (51%) fall within the AMBER or State intervention area of the NBP High Speed Broadband Map.

The State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. 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. The company established to deliver the NBP is called National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to NBI. This award is subject to the contract close, including 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 the end of the second year of the overall deployment, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.