Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ceisteanna (74)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

74. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the significant number of households and businesses waiting on the national broadband plan in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath and of the negative impacts this is having on daily lives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7420/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I am very much aware that there are significant numbers of homes, businesses, farms and schools throughout the country awaiting connection to high speed broadband and I understand peoples frustration and the challenges they face in this regard. As I have said many times, delivering high speed broadband to each of these premises is a personal commitment from me and remains a key priority of Government. 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.

The High Speed Broadband Map on my Department's website https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/communications/topics/Broadband/national-broadband-plan/high-speed-broadband-map/Pages/Interactive-Map.aspx is colour coded and searchable by address/eircode:

- The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP and are the subject of an ongoing procurement process. 

- The BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services. 

- The LIGHT BLUE areas represent eir's commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises by the end of this year as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with my Department last April.

The following table outlines the number of premises in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath which fall into these categories.

County Name

Total Premises

AMBER % Premises within the NBP Intervention Area

BLUE % Premises within Commercial Operator’s Area

LIGHT BLUE premises planned rural deployment

Cavan

41,990

16,938(40%)

18,812(45%)

6,240(15%)

Monaghan

32,939

15,654(47%)

13,769(42%)

3,516(11%)

Meath

83,572

19,222(23%)

56,679(68%)

7,671(9%)

  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. That procurement process is now at an advanced stage and when the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence.

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.