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Telecommunications Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 10 November 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Ceisteanna (221, 222, 223, 224)

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

258 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the national broadband scheme rollout will be complete for County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41820/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

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

Under the terms of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) contract, the NBS Service Provider, 3, is obliged to establish the infrastructure and make the specified NBS services available to fixed businesses and residences within the NBS Coverage Area. The rollout of the provision of NBS services advanced incrementally over a 22-month period and was completed in October 2010.

In line with the NBS contract, broadband services are now available to all premises within each of the 1,028 designated NBS Electoral Divisions (ED), including those in County Galway. A list of the EDs covered in County Galway is set out as follows. As part of its commitment to deliver a total of 389 NBS sites, 5 sites in County Galway remain to be constructed and integrated into 3's NBS network.

National Broadband Scheme (NBS)

Electoral Divisions (ED) Covered by the NBS in County Galway

ED Name

ED Reference No.

ABBEYGORMACAN ED

67003

ABBEYVILLE ED

67004

ADDERGOOLE ED

67005

AHASCRAGH ED

67006

AILLE ED

67007

BALLYCAHALAN ED

67022

BALLYGLASS ED

67023

BALLYMACWARD ED

67024

BALLYNAGAR ED

67027

BALLYNAKILL ED

67028

BEAGHMORE ED

67034

BELCLARE ED

67035

BENCORR ED

67037

BOYOUNAGH ED

67038

BRACKLAGH ED

67039

BULLAUN ED

67040

BUNOWEN ED

67041

CAHERMORE ED

67042

CAMUS ED

67044

CAPPALUSK ED

67045

CAPPARD ED

67046

CARROWNAGUR ED

67049

CARROWREVAGH ED

67050

CLARETUAM ED

67056

CLEGGAN ED

67058

CLIFDEN ED

67059

CLONBERN ED

67060

CLONTUSKERT ED

67063

CLOONBUR ED

67064

CLOONKEEN ED

67066

CLOONKEEN ED

67067

COLMANSTOWN ED

67068

CONG ED

67069

COOS ED

67071

CREGGS ED

67073

CUR ED

67076

CURRAGHMORE ED

67077

CUSHKILLARY ED

67078

DERREW ED

67080

DERRYGLASSAUN ED

67082

DOONBALLY ED

67086

DOONLOUGHAN ED

67087

DRUMKEARY ED

67090

DRUMMIN ED

67091

EYRECOURT ED

67095

FOXHALL ED

67096

GORUMNA ED

67102

GRANGE ED

67104

HILLSBROOK ED

67107

ILLION ED

67108

INISHMORE ED

67110

ISLAND ED

67111

KILBENNAN ED

67114

KILCHREEST ED

67115

KILCONIERIN ED

67117

KILCOONA ED

67119

KILCROAN ED

67120

KILCUMMIN ED

67121

KILCUMMIN ED

67122

KILLAAN ED

67123

KILLALLAGHTAN ED

67124

KILLEEN ED

67128

KILLIAN ED

67132

KILLIMOR ED

67133

KILLIMOR ED

67134

KILLINNY ED

67135

KILLORAN ED

67137

KILLOWER ED

67138

KILLURSA ED

67140

KILMEEN ED

67143

KILQUAIN ED

67145

KILREEKILL ED

67146

KILSHANVY ED

67147

KILTHOMAS ED

67150

KILTORMER ED

67151

KILTULLAGH ED

67152

KILTULLAGH ED

67153

KNOCKBOY ED

67155

LAURENCETOWN ED

67159

LEITRIM ED

67160

LETTERBRICKAUN ED

67161

LETTERFORE ED

67162

LETTERMORE ED

67163

LEVALLY ED

67164

LOUGHATORICK ED

67168

MARBLEHILL ED

67171

MILLTOWN ED

67173

MOAT ED

67174

MOUNTAIN ED

67177

MOUNTHAZEL ED

67178

MOYRUS ED

67182

OATFIELD ED

67183

OWENGOWLA ED

67186

PALLAS ED

67187

PORTUMNA ED

67188

RAFORD ED

67189

RAHEEN ED

67191

RINVYLE ED

67192

ROSS ED

67193

ROUNDSTONE ED

67194

SCREGG ED

67196

SELERNA ED

67197

SHANKILL ED

67198

SILLERNA ED

67199

TEMPLETOGHER ED

67206

TIAQUIN ED

67207

TOBERADOSH ED

67209

TOBERROE ED

67210

TURLOUGH ED

67214

TYNAGH ED

67215

WOODFORD ED

67216

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

259 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will consider introducing a second phase of the national broadband scheme as a matter of urgency to ensure that all remaining areas in Donegal receive mobile Internet broadband coverage and that both ERNACT and ISD in Donegal County Council have a recognised input into the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41852/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services, is a matter for private sector service providers operating in a liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite. ComReg's website www.callcosts.ie provides detailed information on the various private sector telecommunications products and services available on a county by county basis, including County Donegal.

In cases of market failure the Government will intervene, where it is appropriate and possible to do so. The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) represents such an intervention.

EU State Aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.

In determining the Electoral Divisions ("ED") to be covered by the NBS, my Department conducted a detailed mapping exercise in 2008 of the levels of broadband coverage existing throughout the country at that time. The coverage analysis determined that of the 149 EDs within County Donegal, 52 were eligible for inclusion in the NBS on the basis of insufficient broadband coverage. The remaining EDs in County Donegal were excluded from the Scheme because it was found that a number of broadband suppliers were already active in theseareas.

The rollout of the provision of broadband services under the NBS advanced incrementally over a 22 month period and NBS services are now available throughout the NBS coveragearea.

However, despite Government and private investment in broadband, I am aware that there continues to be a small number of individual premises throughout the country that are not capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.)

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend to formally launch a Rural Broadband Scheme shortly. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas.

Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available in due course when the scheme is launched.

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

260 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources given that significant information and other services is provided via internet sites to both the public and as well as to staff, the processes, standards or recommendations in place to ensure that the design, development and maintenance of all such sites consistently complies with legislative requirements, technical standards and industry best practice in terms of data protection, security, accessibility and usability. [41994/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I assume that this Question applies to information provided over the internet by my Department. The Department has developed and maintain a number of applications that support internal business and provide information to the wider community through Internet sites.

All of these applications were built using standards and practices developed within the Information Systems Division of my Department, which have incorporated best practice as it has developed.

These standards reflect international best practice including reference to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the use of multi layered architectures and encryption where appropriate to secure personal information. No application is deployed until it has been subjected to a penetration test by an independent security specialist.

The accessibility and usability of the applications is ensured by the use of a Common Interface Design Framework (CIDF) developed by my Department to standardise design and development of user interfaces.

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

261 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources given that the Programme for Government challenges us to build a productive, smart economy in order to create new jobs, many of which will be building the communications infrastructure and internet of tomorrow, the way he plans to develop and support the increasing focus on quality and standards that is needed to compete internationally against low-cost competitors. [41997/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Government policy pertaining to the electronic communications market in Ireland is set out in "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", which I published in June 2009. The policy paper was developed in accordance with various key principles, which are crucial to the development of the market including (i) competition, at platform and service levels, which drives innovation and investment (ii) investment certainty for service providers considering investing in network infrastructure, (iii) investment intervention by Government to bridge any digital divide in cases of market failure and to meet certain of the State's own communication needs, and (iv) appropriate regulation. The policy paper sets out the Government's position that investment in broadband infrastructure is primarily a matter for the private sector, facilitated, where appropriate and possible, by Government.

The policy has facilitated significant progress in broadband roll out and increasing broadband speeds over recent years. At the end of March 2007, for example, the number of broadband connections, at 600,000 approximately, first exceeded narrowband connections. At end June 2010, by comparison, Ireland had in the region of 1.48 million broadband subscriptions, narrowband connections had reduced to less than 5% of all Internet connections and of the homes with broadband access, 77.8% of them are using broadband speeds between 2mbps and 10mbps. This progress was achieved by a combination of competitive forces in the open market and Government and ERDF funded schemes such as the Metropolitan Areas Networks programme and the National Broadband Scheme. The latter schemes are designed to intervene where market failure has been identified. This approach is consistent with the EU Commission's ‘Community Guidelines on State Aid rules for broadband networks' (2009/C 235/04), which limit the circumstances in which the State can intervene in the broadband market.

I signalled last month that I have commenced the establishment of a Next Generation Broadband Taskforce, comprising industry, Government and ComReg, to consider how best to facilitate the roll out of next generation broadband in Ireland without compromising the competitive market principles and applicable EU rules.

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