Thursday, 21 January 2021

Questions (185)

Cathal Crowe


185. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education the status of the provision of broadband for a school (details supplied) given the internet access difficulties being faced at the school. [3122/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The delivery of high quality internet connectivity for all schools is a key objective of my Department. It is accepted that good connectivity is essential to ensure that schools are facilitated to progress the embedding of digital technologies in teaching and learning and for the implementation of new and revised curriculum.

Under the School Broadband Programme the Department continually reviews the availability of services and upgrades schools where the opportunity arises, in line with contractual and budgetary requirements. Currently investment of some €13m is allocated annually for the provision of internet connectivity to schools. Broadband capacity can vary across geographical locations and is dependent on local infrastructure which can impact on the service that can be provided in individual schools.

The school referred to by the Deputy is currently on the best available service of 8mb wireless connection, which is a dedicated service to the school. The school was included in a recent tender for the provision of broadband and tenders were received from providers of fixed wireless services. The school was awarded to the highest placed tenderer in accordance with procurement requirements, but due to line of sight issues to the provider’s infrastructure the install was not possible. This was also the case with the other tenderers who bid for the school. This school is included in the National Broadband Plan Intervention Area Plan, with the school scheduled to receive high speed fibre broadband in mid-2021. When the high speed infrastructure is in place for this school through the NBP, the service will be upgraded to the school through the School Broadband Programme.

The National Broadband Plan Intervention Area Plan implementation is now underway, and as announced recently, the provision of high speed connectivity to the almost 700 primary schools in that area is to be accelerated for delivery by the end of 2022. My Department is engaging with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications on the intervention area implementation, including the Schools Broadband Connection Points Programme.