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National Broadband Plan

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 2 November 2021

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Questions (137)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

137. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications when broadband will be brought to an address (details supplied); the reason for the difficulty in delivering broadband in view of the fact that adjacent houses have been provided with high-speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52321/21]

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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. 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 as a result of 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 (NBI) that, as of 21 October almost 268,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed and over 115,000 premises are under construction across 30 Deployment Areas. The first premises are connected in Cavan, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Monaghan. Surveys are complete or underway in County Dublin in Skerries, Balbriggan, North County Dublin, Fingal, Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Ongar, Chapelizod, Ballyfermot, Cabra, Bluebell and Finglas. Pre works are ongoing in the Skerries area.

I understand that the premises referred to in the Question is a new build and has recently been added to the Intervention Area through a GeoDirectory update. The NBI website 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. NBI has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.

In addition to the challenges to the delivery of the NBP due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has faced a range of other challenges due to the sheer scale and complexity of rolling out fibre to the home in a rural environment. These include significant tree trimming to ensure cable can be placed on overhead poles, remediation of ducting that has been in place for many decades, the co-ordination of hundreds of contracting crews and addressing the many issues arising week on week which could not have been foreseen until the build crews commenced work on the ground. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract. This plan addresses delays experienced by NBI, primarily arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and re-baselines milestones for 2021. Work is underway to re-baseline milestones for 2022 and beyond.

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 21 October, 385 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 the Department of Education for school BCPs. BCPs are installed at Glenasmole Community Centre, Fingal Ravens GAA Club, Tyrrelstown Community Centre, Stars of Erin GAA Club, Dublin Mountain Community Centre, Man O War GAA Club (6.4km from the premises) and Newbridge House and Farm. Further details can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Balscadden National School has been installed by NBI for educational access. 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/. 

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