Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ceisteanna (82)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

82. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the threat of offshore island depopulation and the need for high speed broadband to curtail this trend through new employment opportunities for offshore island dwellers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7410/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland including those on our offshore islands.

I recognise the importance of availability of high speed connectivity for all premises in Ireland and fully appreciate the frustration felt by people, including those across Ireland's islands, who do not currently have access to this level of connectivity.  The vital broadband connections these people need to live, work and learn will be delivered by the National Broadband Plan, and more specifically in relation to Ireland's inhabited islands, via the State led intervention.

My Department is continuing the formal procurement process to select a company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State intervention area and the procurement process is now at an advanced stage. 

Delivering high speed broadband to citizens across Ireland remains my firm commitment and that of the Government.

The practical issue of rollout across the country as a whole will be an important factor in the final contract negotiations between my Department’s specialist procurement team and the Preferred Bidder.

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 which is available at http://www.ruralireland.ie/policies/national-broadband-plan/.