Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (769, 770)

Brendan Smith

Question:

769. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeline for the rollout of the national broadband plan nationwide; if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing concerns in many areas requesting the inadequate broadband telecommunications service available which causes difficulties for households, businesses and the provision of services; the timescale for the delivery of hi-speed broadband infrastructure to each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31233/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

770. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans in 2019 for the upgrade of broadband telecommunications infrastructure in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31234/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 769 and 770 together.

Every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband – no matter where they are located – following the Government’s decision to approve the appointment of a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan. Under this plan, Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to ensure that those in rural areas have the same digital opportunities as those in urban areas. 

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.

With reference to the Deputy's question on Cavan and Monaghan, there are approximately 42,143 premises in County Cavan. Since December 2015, the number of premises with access to high speed broadband in Cavan has increased by 6,557, a 16% increase. In total, the number of premises in Cavan with access to high speed broadband is now 24,777, or 59% of the total premises in the county. Approximately another 344 premises will be served by eir under that company’s ongoing rural deployment.

There are approximately 33,073 premises in County Monaghan.  Since December 2015, the number of premises with access to high speed broadband in Monaghan increased by 2,748, a 6% increase.  In total, the number of premises in Monaghan with access to high speed broadband is now 16,803, or 51% of the total premises in the county.  Approximately another 512 premises will be served by eir under that company's ongoing rural deployment.

The remaining 17,022 premises in Cavan and 15,758 premises in Monaghan will be connected under the Government’s National Broadband Plan State led intervention.

I recently brought a recommendation to the Government to confer preferred bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP State intervention procurement process, and the 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 contract close, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. A period of final due diligence on all elements of the contract is part of the normal conclusion of a procurement process.

National Broadband Ireland will be supported by a number of experienced subcontractors and is currently tasked with finalising negotiations on contracts with approximately 40 subcontractors to assist in the delivery of the NBP. It is anticipated that a subset of approximately 15 to 20 of these subcontracts will be required prior to contract close to support deployment. The state aid notification relating to the NBP will also be submitted to the European Commission.

It is anticipated these elements will require a number of months, with contract close expected later this year and deployment commencing 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.