Thursday, 5 November 2020
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
National Broadband Plan
What is the timeframe for the completion of the planned remaining broadband connection points in County Kerry? Since the Covid crisis, the plan has changed. While there were initially 12 places nominated as BCPs in County Kerry, it seems now that only eight are to be completed. People living on the road between Lyracrumpane and Duagh have contacted me many times about the lack of broadband. Perhaps a BCP is not really appropriate there and what is needed is for more wiring to be laid on the road, up by the post office and down by the church.
I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. Broadband connection points will be among the first sites connected under the national broadband plan. They represent a collaboration between my Department, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, local authorities and the communities that will host the BCP services. At present, there are more than 200 public access BCP sites scheduled for connection in 2020, in addition to 75 BCPs located in schools. Up to 100 more public access sites are planned for connection in 2021.
As of 23 October, 68 public access BCPs throughout the country had been installed with Wi-Fi equipment, with new sites being added every day. Included in those 68 sites are two public access BCPs in Kerry, namely, the Cable Station and Chapeltown community centre, both on Valentia Island. It is important that we do not forget about the islands. The Cable Station at Valentia is of historic significance, being considered by many to be the birthplace of global telecommunications. It was the site of the first transatlantic telegraph cable between the American continent and Europe. It is very appropriate that it is now home to a BCP that will facilitate connected workers employed by companies both here and overseas.
In total, there will be nine public access BCPs and three school BCPs connected in Kerry this year. Details of the locations of all BCPs which have been, or are due to be, connected are available on the website of National Broadband Ireland, www.nbi.ie.
Broadband coverage is very patchy in the whole of County Kerry, including in Lispole, Sionnach, Brandon and Cloghane, beyond Dingle, and in the Lyracrumpane area, where it is difficult even to get telephone coverage, never mind broadband. Given the peripherality of County Kerry, the fact there are three peninsulas and that only eight out of the 12 BCPs have been taken up, will the Minister look again at the provision for some of these rural areas? The whole of west Kerry does not have one BCP beyond Inch. Will she look at getting some extra wiring into some of these roads, given the bad state of the coverage there?
The broadband connection points have been identified by the broadband officers in the local authorities and we have been working on their recommendations on what areas we can connect. We can talk to the broadband officer in Kerry and we will see if there are any problems. If Deputy Daly wants to write to me specifically about the problems that are being encountered on the connection point he is talking about, I am happy to follow that up.
The best thing we ever did was sign up to the national broadband plan. There was a good bit of opposition to it at the time but nobody is asking for details about the broadband plan. They want to know when they can get it. That is all they want to know. I am sure all the Deputies here have questions coming into their constituency offices wondering when they can get this. The good news is it is coming. The Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is working with National Broadband Ireland to move it along as quickly as we can because Covid has shown us how important broadband is for communities and for businesses right across rural Ireland. As a Government, we are totally committed to making sure it is delivered.