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Rural Broadband Scheme

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 8 September 2020

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Questions (101)

Holly Cairns

Question:

101. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Climate Action and Communication Networks the steps he is taking to ensure sufficient broadband access is provided in rural areas to facilitate online learning. [21735/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Climate)

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has commenced delivering the network required to deploy a high speed broadband service within the intervention area targeted by the National Broadband Plan earlier this year. The Covid 19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for this vital infrastructure which will provide connectivity to those learning and working from home in rural areas. By the end of next year, NBI plans to pass in the region of 115,000 premises, with 70,000 - 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. All counties will see premises passed in the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years. 

All premises within the intervention area will be surveyed as part of the national fibre network rollout. These surveys are required to produce a detailed network design for high speed fibre broadband network. This detailed design is then used to initiate the ‘make ready’ project with eir for the area, where eir ensure any poles and ducts being reused are fit for purpose, and is also used to initiate works with the subcontractors deploying the actual fibre in the area.

83,000 premises have now been surveyed throughout 19 counties in Ireland and detailed designs for laying fibre are also in process for areas throughout the country. NBI provides a facility for any premises within the AMBER area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website (https://nbi.ie/map/).

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP, providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of fast Fibre to the Home. Over 100 BCP sites have been connected by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through 'service provider' contracts managed by the Department of Rural & Community Development for publically available sites and by the Department of Education & Skills (DES) for schools. Approximately 300 sites in rural areas are targeted for completion by the end of 2020 including 75 schools. The Department will work with DES to prioritise the remaining schools to be connected over the term of the NBP.

The Department of Education & Skills confirm that this investment will underpin the Digital Learning Framework for Schools and Digital Technology advisors in the Professional Development Service for Teachers will be involved with the BCP programme to see how the connected schools can engage their high speed connectivity in their Digital Learning Planning.

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