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National Broadband Plan

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (71)

Alan Dillon

Question:

71. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of premises connected in County Mayo as part of the National Broadband Plan; the efforts being undertaken to ramp-up the speed of the roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61492/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the over 554,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along some 679 schools.

Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, National Broadband Ireland has made steady progress on delivery of the new high speed fibre broadband network under the National Broadband Plan with over 282,000 premises surveyed or with survey underway across all counties and almost 150,000 premises with build currently underway or complete. Almost 35,000 premises are available to order and pre-order across 12 counties as of 3 December. I am advised by NBI that, over 10,000 premises in County Mayo have been now surveyed. Surveys are complete in the Deployment Areas of Newport, Killadoon, and Carrowmorelacken. Surveys are ongoing in the Deployment area of Liscarney. I am further advised that pre build works are on going in the Deployment Areas of Castlebar and Athlone (in which over 2,100 premises are in County Mayo) with anticipated dates for connection in H1 and H2 of 2022 respectively.

Further details are available on specific areas within County Mayo 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. NBI has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries. Given the scale and complexity of delivery of the new high speed broadband network under the NBP, I am advised that any dates provided by NBI on its website are based on the best available information at the time and may be subject to change.

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.

It remains the ambition of the Government to rollout the National Broadband Plan as quickly as possible. My Department continues to engage with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of the NBP rollout to establish the possibility of bringing forward premises which are currently scheduled in years 6 and 7 of the current plan to an earlier date. However, the primary focus must be on addressing the delays which have arisen and ensuring that the National Broadband Ireland build programme gets back on track and is building momentum month on month.

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 3 December 2021, 424 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 in County Mayo at Clare Island Community Centre, Finny Community Centre, Islandeady Community Centre, Taugheen Community Centre, Bofeenaun Community Centre, Clogher Community Centre, Ardagh Community Centre, Cushlough Community Centre, Belderrig Community & Research Centre, Kilmovee Community Centre, Keel Community Centre, Killaser Community Centre, The Black Tom Freeman Sport and Community Amenities Centre and Clg Béal An Mhuirthead. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Scoil Néifinn, Midfield National School, Meelick More National School, Kinaffe National School, Gortskehy National School, Facefield National School, Errew National School, Cloghans National School, Shraigh National School, Rathbane National School, Rathnamagh National School, Dooagh National School, Valley National School, Dookinella National School, Roxboro National School, Cloonliffen National School, Tavraun Central National School and Saint Coleman's National School have 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 late last year 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 nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

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