Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ceisteanna (37)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

37. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the commitment to provide high speed broadband to each house and business in County Donegal; the deadline for same; the number of homes and businesses which have access to high speed broadband; the number of additional homes and businesses which received access to high speed broadband in 2017; the number which will receive access in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17842/18]

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. Today, almost 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. Since this Government came into office almost 400,000 additional premises have access to high speed broadband. This will increase to nearly 8 out of 10 premises by the end of this year and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection. This is being achieved via a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

In April 2017 I published an updated High Speed Broadband Map which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. This Map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the NBP.

The Map 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.

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 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.

There are just over 101,000 premises in Donegal.  Nearly 34,000 (33%) fall within the AMBER area and will be covered under the State led Intervention. Some 56,500 (56%) of premises are in a BLUE area and fall to be covered by commercial providers, while 11,000 (11%) are LIGHT BLUE and fall to be covered by eir's planned rural deployment. Individuals can check which category their premises falls into by going to my Department’s website www.broadband.gov.ie and entering their eircode into the Map. 

Quarterly updates on eir's rural deployment are published on this website. Since beginning their rollout in Q4 2016, eir has passed a total of 121,000 premises, including some 15,000 in County Donegal. Approximately, a further 11,000 premises remain to be passed in Donegal by the end of this year.  By the end of eir's deployment approximately 67% of Donegal's premises will have access to a high speed broadband service.

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 in its final stages.  My Department will engage with the successful bidder on the most efficient roll-out of the network.

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.