Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (93)

Robert Troy

Question:

93. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the reason townlands outside villages are being serviced with e-fibre broadband before more densely populated areas, for example, Barry Village, County Longford (details supplied); and the reason the roll-out was decided in such a manner. [7001/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Question refers to a premises located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website 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 network rollout for the National Broadband Plan is divided  into 227 Deployment Areas (DAs) across the country.  These are typically an area of approximately 25km in radius and in total they cover 96% of Ireland’s landmass. The architecture of the network design is specifically based on the design of the NBI network coming from the eir exchanges or the metropolitan area networks (MANs) managed by Enet. It is based on an engineering design that allows NBI to get to every premises as quickly as possible  working within the confines of how fibre networks are built.

Each DA creates a ‘fibre ring’ which is essential to ensure reliability, robustness and resilience. Critical to the success of the network, NBI’s fibre rings are built with back-ups,ensuring that in the event of one fibre cable being disrupted, the whole network continues to perform.  Each fibre ring that NBI deploys is designed in a way that is non-discriminatory, meaning that as the rollout progresses, it may pass relatively urban areas at the same time as passing some of the most remote premises within the intervention area. The design will utilise existing infrastructure to a very significant degree.

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.

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland that, as of 26 January 2021, over 166,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed. Surveys in County Longford have been completed in Drumlish, Ennybegs, Moat Farrell, Cullyfad, Longford Town, Newtownforbes, Cloondara, Stonepark, Ardagh, Moydow and Kilashee. Further details are available on specific areas within County Longford through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie. Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises as works commence. I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans. NBI also has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.

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. As of 30 January, 260 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 accessible sites and by the Department of Education for schools. BCP’s are installed at Colmcille GAA Club, Ballymore Shamrocks GAA Club, Mullinalaghta Community Centre, Corlea Heritage Centre and Aughine Community Centre. Further details can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Naomh Guasachta National School (Bunlahy) has been installed by NBI and Fermoyle National School has been connected for educational access as part of this initiative. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026. Further details are available on the NBI website at https://nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.