Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (310)

Holly Cairns

Question:

310. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Community and Rural Development and the Islands her plans to increase digital infrastructure and connectivity in County Cork in view of the increased number of persons working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26222/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Community)

The provision of telecommunications services is primarily a matter for commercial providers operating in a liberalised market.

Nonetheless, under the National Broadband Plan (NBP), the Government will fund the provision of a high-speed broadband network in areas where it is not commercially viable for service providers to do so. The NBP network, which comes under the remit of Minister Eamon Ryan’s Department, will be rolled out to almost 540,000 premises across the country.

In parallel, my Department has been working closely with Local Authorities to identify Broadband Connection Points which will make free on-site connectivity available to communities in remote rural areas, including in County Cork. The BCPS will be situated in publicly accessible buildings such as sports clubs and community centres and will be amongst the first premises to be connected under the National Broadband Plan.

Over the coming months, approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points will be provided with a high speed connection. The locations of the BCPs are available on the website of National Broadband Ireland, at www.nbi.ie. Many of the BCPs will facilitate remote working.

I firmly believe that remote working has the potential to transform rural Ireland, allowing people to build careers in good quality jobs while continuing to live in their home place.

My Department has been working with the Western Development Commission to build an integrated network of remote working hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, from Kerry to Donegal, which can serve as a model to be replicated in other parts of the country.

My Department has also funded a number of hubs under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme in the last two years which will support remote working.