Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Question 43: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he will take to provide broadband coverage to areas not serviced by the national broadband scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6364/11]
The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services, is a matter in the first instance for private sector service providers operating in a liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).
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. Broadband services are now available throughout the entire NBS area.
However, despite Government and private investment in broadband, I am aware that there continues to be isolated cases of premises throughout the country that are not capable of receiving a broadband service. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (e.g., suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, or no 'line of sight' from the premises to the wireless base station).
The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives.
Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend to formally announce the launch of a Rural Broadband Scheme in the coming weeks. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas.
There will be a competitive process to engage a service provider who will offer a broadband service to qualified applicants under the scheme. While the exact details have yet to be finalised, I expect that the service offered under this scheme would at least match the service offered under the NBS and that the scheme will be fully rolled out by the end of 2012.