Written answers

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Broadband Service Provision

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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136. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to upgrade the broadband line from Mullingar to Ballynacargy in County Westmeath and to include the Walshestown Bunbrosna Road (details supplied). [9201/16]

Photo of Alex WhiteAlex White (Dublin South, Labour)
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The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure that every citizen and business, regardless of location, has access to a high quality, high speed broadband service. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investments and a State led intervention in areas where commercial services will not be provided. The provision of electronic communications infrastructure, including the significant investment required to make high speed telecommunication services publicly available, occurs within a fully liberalised market. It is a matter for the competing network providers to decide those areas which can be served on a commercial basis, in the first instance. Intervention by the State is limited to investment or co-investment in those areas of the country the commercial market will not serve.

The commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2 billion in network upgrades and enhanced services in the last four years, and is continuing to invest. These very significant investments represent a step change in the quality of broadband services available.

On 22 December 2015, I formally launched the procurement process for the State intervention to provide high quality, high speed broadband to all premises in Ireland that may not be served through commercial investment. The formal procurement process commenced with the publication of the Pre-qualification Questionnaire and Project Information Memorandum. Five responses were received from prospective bidders to this stage of the competitive procurement process by the deadline of 31 March. The responses are now being assessed in line with criteria set down by the Department with a view to selecting qualified provider(s) to proceed to the next stage of the procurement. This second stage in the process will be formal Invitation to Participate in Dialogue (ITPD) to shortlisted bidders.

This is scheduled to commence in June and will take place over the Summer. The timing of each stage of the procurement is dependent on a number of factors including the number of bidders shortlisted and the complexities that may be encountered during the dialogue process.

The High Speed Broadband Map 2020, which is available at shows the extent of the State Intervention area.

The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services. The Department continues to monitor the commercial deployment plans in the BLUE area to ensure that all of the 1.6m premises, where commercial operators have committed to providing services will have access to High Speed Broadband of at least 30 Mbps.

The areas marked AMBER, including the area from Mullingar to Ballynacargy in County Westmeath, represent the target areas for the State Intervention. Members of the public can view whether their premises are in the BLUE or AMBER area by accessing the High Speed Broadband Map and entering their Eircode.

The Intervention Strategy sets out a detailed service specification including a requirement that the State-funded network must be capable of delivering high-quality, high speed broadband of at least 30 Mbps download and 6 Mbps upload. It must also be capable of catering for higher performance in the future so as to keep pace with consumer demand.

The intention is to build out the network in the AMBER area as quickly as possible. The Department will engage with the winning bidder(s) on the optimum rollout strategy, and on the sequencing of the network deployment to maximise efficiencies during network build, having regard to business and consumer needs, and to areas of particularly poor service and areas of strong demand. All these factors will need to be balanced against the most efficient network roll out and will be agreed during the procurement process.

Engagement with industry stakeholders as part of the pre-procurement consultations has indicated that the network in the Amber area could be achieved within 3-5 years, after contract(s) is awarded.


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