I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 78 together.
Delivering high speed broadband to every home, every business, every farm and every school in Ireland is a personal commitment for me and remains a key priority of Government.
Currently just over 55,000 or 55% of the approximately 101,000 premises in County Donegal have access to a high speed broadband service. Every single one of the remaining 46,000 (46%) premises that lack this service will be served under the Government's National Broadband Plan; some 12,000 by commercial investment, the remaining 34,000 by the planned 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 reconfirmed this committment to completing the 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. In the period to Q3 2017, over 14,100 premises in County Donegal were passed by eir's rural deployment.
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 national total of 121,000 premises of the 300,000 eircodes identified by eir.
My Department is in a formal procurement process to engage the company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network to those premises in the State intervention area who will not be covered by private investment. My Department’s specialist NBP procurement team will continue to engage intensively with all the relevant stakeholders in the process, including the sse/enet consortium, to ensure the earliest possible achievement of the Government’s objective of providing reliable high quality, high speed broadband to every home, farm and business across the country. My Department will also engage with the bidder to ensure the most efficient deployment as part of any contract.
When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence. Through the said combination of commercial investment and State led intervention the National Broadband Plan has already provided a high speed broadband connection to thousands of homes around the country, ensuring that today, 7 out of 10 Irish premises can access this vital service. By the end of this year this will be almost 8 out of 10 and by 2020, 9 out of every 10 premises in this country will have a high speed broadband connection.