Thursday, 10 September 2020

Questions (68)

Denis Naughten


68. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Climate Action and Communication Networks his plans to fast-track the delivery of the national broadband plan in line with the commitment in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23186/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Climate)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract signed on 19 November last.   The NBP network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 500Mbps from the outset. This represents an increase from the 150Mbps committed to under the Contract. The current deployment plan forecasts premises passed in all counties within the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State having access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

Design work is complete or ongoing in target townlands across 20 counties and steady progress is being made with over 89,000 premises surveyed to date. This survey work is feeding into detailed designs for each deployment area and laying fibre should commence shortly with the first fibre to the home connections expected around December this year. While substantial progress has been made to date, the Covid 19 pandemic has had an impact on the delivery of the fibre network. The extent of this impact is currently being assessed and NBI has committed to put in place measures to mitigate the impact in as far as possible.

The Covid 19 pandemic has also highlighted the importance of good reliable broadband to ensure that citizens across Ireland can avail of remote working, education and other essential online facilities. This is reflected in the commitments in the Programme for Government where delivery of the National Broadband Plan will be a key enabler to many of the policies envisaged particularly around increased levels of remote working.

The Programme for Government has committed to seek to accelerate the roll out of the National Broadband Plan. In this regard, my Department continues to engage with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of this rollout to establish the possibility of bringing forward premises which are currently scheduled in years 6 and 7 of the current plan to an earlier date. Exploring the potential to accelerate the network rollout is being undertaken in parallel with the measures required to mitigate delays arising as a result of Covid-19.