Written answers

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Telecommunications Services

9:00 pm

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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Question 599: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way he will improve broadband access for the people of County Clare; if he will set a target to provide this much required service as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18941/07]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South, Green Party)
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The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter for the companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated, where appropriate, by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg. The role of the Government is to implement regulatory and infrastructure policies to facilitate the provision of high quality telecommunications services, by competing private sector service providers.

It continues to be a priority of the Government that there will be broadband coverage across the entire country. In that regard my Department has undertaken initiatives to address the gaps in broadband coverage. These include providing grant-aid under the recently concluded Group Broadband Scheme and investment in Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) in over 120 towns and cities under the Regional Broadband Programme. Twenty-seven MANs have been completed under the first phase and are currently being managed by ENet, the Managed Services Entity. The second phase will extend the programme and in this regard my Department is currently constructing a 5.2 km MAN in Kilrush in association with Shannon Broadband Limited, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Despite Government investment in broadband in the regions through the Regional Broadband Programme, there are still some parts of the country where the private sector will be unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband connectivity. The procurement process for the Government's new National Broadband Scheme (NBS) was launched on 2 May 2007. This scheme will provide broadband services to the areas of Ireland that are currently unserved and ensure that every reasonable request for broadband in these unserved areas is met. The estimated timescale for the award of the NBS contract is December 2007, with rollout of the services due to begin as soon as possible thereafter, subject to agreement with the chosen Service Provider.

Photo of Margaret ConlonMargaret Conlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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Question 600: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the timeframe and the extension of broadband services to those parts of County Monaghan that are not broadband enabled at the moment. [18950/07]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South, Green Party)
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The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter for the companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated, where appropriate, by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg. The role of the Government is to implement regulatory and infrastructure policies to facilitate the provision of high quality telecommunications services, by competing private sector service providers.

It continues to be a priority of the Government that there will be broadband coverage across the entire country. In that regard my Department has undertaken initiatives to address the gaps in broadband coverage. These include providing grant-aid under the recently concluded Group Broadband Scheme (GBS) and investment in Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) in over 120 towns and cities under the Regional Broadband Programme. GBS projects were approved for the Lough Egish and Iniskeen areas. These projects are now operational and providing a broadband service in those areas. Twenty-seven MANs have been completed under the first phase and are currently being managed by ENet, the Managed Services Entity.

Under the first phase of the MANs programme the following Monaghan towns have received broadband infrastructure: Clones, Castleblayney, Monaghan Town, Carrickmacross. Despite Government investment in broadband in the regions through the Regional Broadband Programme, there are still some parts of the country where the private sector will be unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband connectivity. The procurement process for the Government's new National Broadband Scheme (NBS) was launched on 2 May 2007. This scheme will provide broadband services to the areas of Ireland that are currently unserved and ensure that every reasonable request for broadband in these unserved areas is met. The estimated timescale for the award of the NBS contract is December 2007, with rollout of the services due to begin as soon as possible thereafter, subject to agreement with the chosen Service Provider.

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