Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (39)

Thomas Byrne


39. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to improve broadband quality in County Meath. [28297/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

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. 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, 75% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband.

Since December 2015, the number of premises with access to high-speed broadband in Meath has increased by 13,097. In total, the number of premises in Meath with access to high speed broadband is now 64,281 which equates to 74% of all premises in the county. Another 1,741 will be served by eir under that company’s ongoing rural deployment of high speed broadband, which is nearing completion.

The remaining 20,400 homes, schools and businesses in Meath will receive access to high speed broadband under the Government’s National Broadband Plan State intervention.

The goal of the National Broadband Plan intervention is 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 Government decision on 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to National Broadband Ireland, subject to 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. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

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.

The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.