Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (65)

Michael McNamara

Question:

65. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Climate Action and Communication Networks when a person (details supplied) will be facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26026/20]

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Written answers (Question to Climate)

The Question refers to a premises which is located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led intervention, the contract for which was signed in November last with National Broadband Ireland (NBI).  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 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.As of 15 September, design work is complete or ongoing in target townlands across 21 counties and steady progress is being made with over 91,000 premises surveyed to date. This activity is increasing week on week and NBI expects to have completed some 120,000 surveys by the end of the year. This activity involves physically walking the routes and documenting images, notes and measurements of the poles, cables and underground ducts in each area. This is informing design solutions for provision of the fibre 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. It is also used to initiate works with the subcontractors deploying the actual fibre in the area. The laying of fibre should commence shortly with the first fibre to the home connections expected around December this year. 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/).I am advised that in Co Clare surveys have recently commenced in the areas of Cratloe, Ballycannan, Ballyglass and Cloghrea and further surveys are due to commence in the areas of Kilkishen before the end of this year.  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 the fibre to the home network. Some 144 BCP sites have been installed 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 and Community Development for publicly available sites and by the Department of Education and Skills for schools. There are a number of BCPs located across County Clare including at Caherconnell, Cree Community Centre, Loop Head and Michael Cusack Visitor Centres.  A number of schools  including Kilmurry McMahon, Shragh, Ennistymon and Stonehall National Schools will also be connected to high speed broadband as part of the BCP initiative.  My Department will work with the Department of Education and Skills to prioritise the remaining schools to be connected over the term of the NBP. Further details can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-locations/. I understand that there can be instances where premises remain unconnected, although close to premises that are passed by eir’s fibre network. Eir’s rural deployment of high speed broadband is a commercial undertaking and, as such, decisions regarding the areas and premises served are made by eir. My Department has no role in the matter and has no statutory authority to intervene in decisions of commercial operators as to where they build infrastructure and provide services. Throughout rural Ireland, eir’s fibre deployment is primarily focussed on towns and villages and the premises on their outskirts. Where that network ends is where the National Broadband Plan in effect commences to ensure that nobody is left behind. I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 64.