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Broadband Infrastructure

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 16 November 2021

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Ceisteanna (151)

Duncan Smith


151. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will investigate the further delay from March 2022 to April 2023 in supply of high-speed broadband connection to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55653/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The question refers to a premises located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led intervention.

I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway. 

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) that, as of 5 November, almost 274,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed or have surveys underway and over 125,000 premises have build currently underway. NBI has also advised that the first premises are connected in Cavan, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Monaghan and over 30,000 premises are available to order and pre-order across 12 counties. Surveys are complete or underway in County Dublin in Skerries, Balbriggan, North County Dublin, Fingal, Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Ongar, Chapelizod, Ballyfermot, Cabra, Bluebell and Finglas. Main works are ongoing in the Skerries area.

Further details are available on specific areas within County Dublin through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the Intervention Area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie. Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises as works commence. NBI has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries. NBI has recently published details of its full deployment schedule on its website which enables all premises within the intervention area to have an anticipated service activation date range. Given the scale and complexity of delivery of the new high speed broadband network under the NBP, I am advised that any dates provided by NBI on its website are based on the best available information at the time and may be subject to change.

In addition to the challenges to the delivery of the NBP due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has faced a range of other challenges due to the sheer scale and complexity of rolling out fibre to the home in a rural environment. These include significant tree trimming to ensure cable can be placed on overhead poles, remediation of ducting that has been in place for many decades, the co-ordination of hundreds of contracting crews and addressing the many issues arising week on week which could not have been foreseen until the build crews commenced work on the ground. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract. This plan addresses delays experienced by NBI, primarily arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and re-baselines milestones for 2021. Work is underway to re-baseline milestones for 2022 and beyond. This has resulted in some changes to timeframes for connection for end users.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 5 November, 388 BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly accessible sites and the Department of Education for school BCPs. BCP’s are installed at Stars of Erin GAA / Dublin Mountain Community Centre (6.5km from premises referred to),  Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Balscadden National School has been installed by NBI for educational access. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026.  Further details are available on the NBI website at nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

Question No. 152 answered with Question No. 147.