Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (1043)

Emer Higgins

Question:

1043. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress on the development of broadband connection points in which her Department played a key role in the identification of locations; and if the number of broadband connection points is being increased. [6655/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) initiative will see approximately 300 publicly accessible sites provided with a temporary high-speed broadband connection by National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company contracted to deliver the National Broadband Plan (NBP). These sites will be in rural and isolated areas, including many off-shore islands.

Typically, BCPs are community centres, sports clubs and libraries that will make indoor and outdoor internet access available to the public. The sites are identified by the Local Authority Broadband Officers.

After a site survey and if considered suitable, BCPs are provided with a high-speed wireless connection by National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company contracted to deliver the NBP in the State intervention area. Vodafone Ireland then install the customer premises equipment (control boxes/switches and wifi access points) which enables broadband services to be provided.

To date, 266 sites have been identified for site surveys and installation. Installation is being progressed at 143 sites, with 123 BCPs declared 'live', meaning that both the initial connectivity and the customer facing equipment has been installed, tested and shown to be performing as required.

As new sites are connected every day, this number will rise rapidly. The locations of all planned and live BCPs can be found on the website of NBI at https://nbi.ie/broadband-connection-points/.

At this point, the majority of sites for inclusion in the BCP project have been identified and the installation programme is at an advanced stage. Notwithstanding this, there remains a small amount of capacity for additional sites.

Potential BCP locations should be discussed with the relevant Local Authority Broadband Officer who will offer advice and help coordinate an application. Contact details for the Local Authority Broadband Officers are available at: https://assets.gov.ie/3908/061218122032-88ceac03820f4db6b6807c6178f5c2b4.pdf

While the BCPs are an important element of the National Broadband Plan in their own right, the objective is that that they will become long-term community assets, providing for a multitude of local needs as they develop over the coming years, beyond the completion of the NBP rollout.

In this context, my officials are designing a suite of programmes, underpinned by the connectivity at BCPs, to develop remote working, eHealth, education and training, and arts and culture projects.