Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ceisteanna (38)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

38. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which he has achieved progress and understanding to advance the programme to deliver broadband (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7414/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location.  The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland now have access to high speed broadband.  By the end of this year that number will rise to nearly 8 out of 10 premises and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises or 90% of premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection. This will be achieved via a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

In April 2017, I signed a Commitment Agreement with eir in relation to its plans to provide High speed broadband to 300,000 premises in rural areas on a commercial basis. eir has committed to completing this rollout by the end of this year.  Information on eir's planned rural deployment is available at http://fibrerollout.ie/eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie.

Quarterly updates on eir's rural deployment are published on this website. Although deployment figures for Q4 2017 have not yet been verified by my Department’s teams, I understand eir has passed a total of 121,000 premises of the 300,000 identified premises to date. 

My Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State intervention area. One company, eir, publicly withdrew from the procurement process on 30 January, citing "commercial, regulatory and governance issues". While this is regrettable, it is a commercial decision for eir to make.  The specialist NBP procurement team will continue to engage intensively with all relevant stakeholders, including the enet/sse consortium, to ensure the earliest possible achievement of the Government’s objective of providing reliable high quality, high speed broadband to all premises in Ireland. When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence.

Delivering high speed broadband to citizens across Ireland remains a firm commitment of mine and this Government.

In the interim, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen.  These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities.  The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements with operators and clearing obstacles to developing infrastructure.  There is a link to a list of these local Broadband Officers on my Department's website.