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Telecommunications Services.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 15 February 2007

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Ceisteanna (96, 97)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

93 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will designate the digital hub as a location of best practice for the roll out of metropolitan area networks under the national development plan; and if so, when he will make this designation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5832/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

The Digital Hub Development Agency is a Government initiative which aims to develop a world class digital industry cluster, as well as regenerating an historic community area in the heart of Dublin by operating a number of significant community and educational initiatives.

The State made an initial investment in quality telecommunications infrastructure within the Hub at the project's outset, costing an estimated EUR €2.3 million. This infrastructure is fibre based and has high end capacity. It is effectively a Metropolitan Area Network and has been utilised by enterprise tenants within the Hub as well as facilitating interactive learning through the Agency's 25 learning initiative programmes.

While there are no immediate plans in place to use the Digital Hub as a location of best practice for the roll out of Metropolitan Area Networks, officials in my Department are in contact on an on-going basis with the Digital Hub regarding its Metropolitan Area Network, in terms of innovative usage and showcasing.

Paddy McHugh

Ceist:

94 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when broadband will be available to customers in rural areas of County Galway served by exchanges which are not broadband capable; his views on whether the lack of DSL broadband is discouraging business and employment in these areas and placing school children and students at a disadvantage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5890/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The enabling of exchanges to provide DSL broadband is a matter for the service providers.

The facilitation of broadband coverage across the entire country continues to be a key priority. I am aware that, despite Government and private investment in broadband, there are areas of the country where the private sector is unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband connectivity. Accordingly, I have announced a new scheme which will aim to provide a broadband service to these areas. This scheme will, when it is fully rolled out, ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband from houses and premises in rural areas are met.

A Steering Group comprising officials from my Department and ComReg is currently considering all elements of the proposed scheme and work on the design of an appropriate tender will commence in the coming weeks. This scheme will be confined to areas of the country that are not yet served by any broadband service provider, currently thought to be 10-15% of the population.

Under the joint industry/Government initiative, which established the Broadband for Schools programme, high speed broadband connectivity is being provided to all primary and post primary schools in the country at no cost to the schools themselves. 96.8% of schools have broadband installed to date.

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