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National Broadband Plan

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 9 February 2022

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Questions (38)

Michael Lowry

Question:

38. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the options available regarding fibre broadband at a location (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason this property cannot be connected to the fibre broadband infrastructure that is already provided in the area by commercial providers; the steps his Department has taken to provide access to full-capacity fibre broadband to this area of County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6773/22]

View answer

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 close to a fibre network, owned by a commercial operator, but cannot obtain 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 (NBI) that, as of 31 January, almost 296,000 premises have been surveyed or have survey underway, with over 154,000 premises constructed or under construction across all counties. NBI has also advised that premises are connected in 16 counties; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Wexford and Wicklow and over 54,500 premises are available to order and pre-order across 21 counties. In County Tipperary surveying is underway in the Deployment Area of Cahir, surveying is complete in the Deployment Areas of Nenagh and Mullinahone, pre works are underway in the Deployment Areas of Cashel and Roscrea and main works are ongoing in the Deployment Areas of Tipperary and Clonmel. To date over 17,000 premises in County Tipperary have been surveyed, with almost 8,000 premises under construction and over 2,700 premises now available to order or pre-order.

Further details are available on specific areas within County Tipperary 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.

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. This has resulted in some changes to timeframes for connection for end users.

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. NBI has recently published details of its full deployment schedule on its website, www.nbi.ie, which enables all premises within the intervention area to have an anticipated service activation date range.

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 31 January, 469 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 connected at Rossmore Community Hall (approx. 8.4km from the premises referred to), Aglish Community Hall, Drom Community Centre, Curreeney Community Hall, Killoscully Community Centre, Killea GAA Club, Moyglass Community Hall, Killurney Community Centre, Fanure Community Hall, Boher Parish Hall, Latteragh Community Centre, Ballinahinch Community Centre, Kilcoleman Community and Recreational Centre, The Apple Farm, The Pavillion, Ballinderry Sportsfield, Terryglass Community Hall, Ballylooby Castlegrace GAA Club, Lismackin Community Hall and Gurtagarry Community Hall. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Poulacapple National School, Killeen National School, Killea National School, Leugh National School, Ballinahinch National School, Ayle National School, Newtown Upper, Moyglass National School, Two Mile Borris National School and Scoil Naisiunta Chaoimhghin 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. Further details of schools in scope are available on the NBI website at nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

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