Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Ceisteanna (86, 88)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

86. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase the provision of fibre broadband in rural Ireland. [14239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

88. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase fibre broadband provision in County Meath. [14238/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 88 together.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention to those areas where commercial investment is unlikely. These are mostly rural areas.

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

In April 2017 my Department 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 National Broadband Plan. The Map is colour coded and searchable by address or Eircode.

The procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the State Intervention network is now at the final stage. The assessment of the Bidder’s final tender solution is ongoing and I intend to bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

As required by the State Aid Guidelines for Broadband, the NBP procurement process has adopted a technology neutral approach. It does not mandate the delivery of service by any specific material or infrastructure. However, it is noteworthy that all bidders in the process proposed a predominantly fibre to the home solution.

With regard to the availability of high speed broadband in county Meath, since December 2015 the number of premises with access to high speed broadband has increased by 32,000, or a 36% increase. In total, the number of premises in Meath with access to high speech broadband is 63,370, 74% of total premises in the county. A further 2,395 premises will be served by eir under that company’s ongoing rural deployment.

The remaining 20,256 homes, schools and businesses in Co. Meath will be connected under the State led intervention. It is my intention to bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.