Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Question 527: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the provision of broadband in an area (details supplied) in County Monaghan; if it will be rolled out as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28157/10]
The provision of broadband services is in the first instance a matter for private sector service providers operating in Ireland's fully liberalised telecommunications market. Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite.
In cases of market failure the Government will intervene, where it is appropriate and possible to do so. The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) represents such an intervention.
Prior to the commencement of the NBS a detailed mapping exercise was carried out to help determine those areas that would be included in the scheme and those which, by virtue of being already substantially served by existing broadband suppliers, could not be included.
EU State aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.
That mapping exercise found that at least one existing broadband supplier was already active in the area referred to in the Deputy's Question and consequently the locality was excluded from the Scheme. Details of broadband services available in each county can be found on ComReg's website at www.callcosts.ie
It continues to be a priority of the Government that there will be broadband coverage across the entire country. However, despite Government and private investment in broadband, I am aware that there continues to be a small percentage of premises throughout the country that will not be capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.).
The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. My Department is currently considering the design and implementation of a scheme which would use this funding to address the issue of basic broadband availability to un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas. This work will include the identification of premises not capable of receiving broadband. It is hoped to commence this scheme in late 2010 and have it completed by 2012. As the scheme is only at the design stage, there is no application process at this juncture. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available in due course when the scheme is launched.