Written answers

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Metropolitan Area Networks Programme

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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273. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason a town (details supplied) in County Wexford was not included in the metropolitan area network roll-out when towns similar in size were included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28208/14]

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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274. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the criteria used when locating metropolitan area networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28209/14]

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South West, Labour)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 273 and 274 together.

Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) are State owned, open access, underground telecommunications networks, linking the main commercial and public buildings to "co-location centres" where service providers locate their telecommunications equipment and access the network. MANs are available to licenced telecoms providers to enable them offer high-speed broadband to their retail customers without having to build their own networks.

88 MANs, covering 94 towns, were constructed under the MANs Programme, at a cost of approximately €176m. The MANs were built in two phases – 28 MANs were constructed in Phase I between 2002 and 2004 and 60 MANs covering 66 towns were constructed during Phase II between 2006 and 2009.

A Value For Money and Policy Review of Phase I of the MANs Programme in 2007 concluded, inter alia, that the MANs model was not suited to all locations and recommended that towns of a significant size or those that had been earmarked for development under the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) should be prioritised for future investment under the MANs Programme.

In 2008, an evaluation was carried out on 81 towns with a population in excess of 1,500 persons (with reference to the 2006 census figures). These towns included 28 towns that were originally planned for inclusion in Phase II, which was paused in December 2007, and the 29 towns planned for inclusion in Phase III of the Programme. Enniscorthy was one of the towns considered for Phase III of the Programme. Each location was evaluated following consultation with telecoms operators, Regional Authorities and the IDA and by reference to such criteria as:

- NSS status (hub or gateway town);

- Population;

- Customer demand;

- Regional Authority prioritisation;

- Interconnectivity to other networks.

The towns that were deemed to be strongest candidates for a MAN were then selected for a more detailed analysis, including a capital appraisal. Enniscorthy was not among the towns selected for further analysis.

The Deputy may wish to note that Enniscorthy is already served by a number of commercial operators, providing broadband services over a diverse range of technology platforms, including fixed, wireless and fibre technology. Details of broadband services available in each County, including County Wexford, can be found on a number of websites, including ComReg's website at , as well as the websites of individual commercial operators.

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