Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Ceisteanna (173)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

173. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an agreement has been reached in relation to the provision of broadband to rural areas that are awaiting the service; the average cost per linear metre to each household in which the high speed fibre is on a public road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22221/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband. The State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this. The company established to deliver the NBP is called National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to NBI. This award is subject to the contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network to the 540,000 premises in the intervention area will commence shortly after that.

In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

The design of the NBP State intervention network calls for both overhead and underground sections of cable and the final 'drop' cable used to make the final connection to premises (either overhead or underground ). The number of fibre strands in a particular section will depend on the route design. Each route is specifically designed following a detailed site survey and the route cables are dimensioned to cater for existing and planned (at the time of deployment) premises. The cable dimensioning will include an additional fibre allowance to cater for future capacity requirements.

The cost of roll out per linear metre is information which is commercially sensitive within the telecommunications sector, as this fibre is sourced on the open commercial market. To disclose such information could allow suppliers to gain an unfair advantage and be disadvantageous to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State intervention as a whole.