Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (102)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

102. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the consideration that has been given to providing broadband to premises outside of the parameters of the national broadband plan that struggle with connectivity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7244/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie, shows the areas which will be included in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led intervention as well as areas targeted by commercial operators. The map is colour coded and searchable by address and Eircode.

Commercial areas defined as BLUE on the NBP map are not included in the State intervention area covered by the National Broadband Plan as commercial operators are already providing high speed broadband or have indicated future plans to do so. My Department defines high speed broadband as a connection with minimum speeds of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload. The activities of commercial operators delivering high speed broadband within BLUE areas are not planned or funded by the State and my Department has no statutory authority to intervene in that regard as they operate in a fully liberalised market regulated by ComReg as independent regulator.

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 construction commenced 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.

I understand that some homes and businesses in Blue areas on the NBP map have experienced difficulty getting a reliable high-speed broadband service and my Department is proactively engaged in dealing with any such anomalies to ensure no home or business is left behind. It remains open to the Department to bring additional premises into the National Broadband Ireland (NBI) roll-out plan under the NBP contract where no commercial high-speed broadband service is available from any of the commercial operators.

Of the 2.4 million premises across Ireland, 77% of premises now have access to high-speed broadband of more than 30 Mbps. NBI will  address  the remaining premises through the National Broadband Plan State intervention. In many parts of the country, very high capacity networks are now becoming the norm. For example, 40% of subscriptions are for services offering speeds in excess of 100Mbps. There are more than 225,000 fibre subscriptions across the country, representing a 55% increase on last year.

A number of commercial operators have announced further investment plans in high-speed broadband. Eir has said it will roll out fibre to a further 1.4 million premises, bringing their fibre deployment to some 1.8 million premises. SIRO is currently completing the first phase of its fibre deployment which will see 375,000 premises passed with gigabit services. Virgin Media is offering 250Mbps as a standard offering with 500Mbps and 1Gbps available to many of their customers across the more than 1 million premises that they cover. Many other network operators and telecom service providers across the State also continue to invest in their networks.