Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
National Broadband Plan
231. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if upgrade works on the national broadband scheme will take place in the Gaeltacht area of Lambay, Cill Bhríd, Trim, County Meath (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2062/17]
The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment by the telecommunications sector and a State intervention in those areas where commercial investment has not been fully demonstrated.
A key principle of the NBP is to support and stimulate commercial investment in Broadband through policy and regulatory measures. Commercial investment since the publication of the NBP has considerably exceeded expectations. To date, the commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2.5bn in upgrading and modernising networks which support the provision of high speed broadband and mobile telecoms services.
Currently, approximately 1.4m premises in Ireland can get high speed broadband from commercial service providers and investment by the telecoms sector is continuing to expand this footprint.
The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available atwww.broadband.gov.ieshows the extent of the State Intervention area.
- The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial telecommunications providers are either currently delivering or have previously indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services. Investment decisions by the telecommunications networks providers in these areas are taken on commercial grounds by each network operator.
- The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention which are the subject of the current procurement process.
The area referred to by the Deputy falls within an AMBER area and will therefore be included in the State Intervention procurement process under the NBP. Individuals can check whether their premises is in a BLUE or an AMBER area by accessing the High Speed Broadband Map and entering their Eircode.
A formal procurement process is now in train to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network within the State Intervention Area. The Department will also shortly update the High Speed Broadband map and finalise this Intervention Area for bidders, taking into account any industry investments that have not materialised and potential other new investments.
The procurement process is being intensively managed, to ensure an outcome that delivers a future-proofed network that serves homes and businesses across Ireland, for at least 25 years. Intensive dialogue with bidders is continuing and the three bidders have indicated that they are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home solution. This provides for a future proofed solution for the 25 years of the contract and beyond. A fibre-to-the-home solution means that householders and businesses may get speeds not just of 30 Megabits per second but much higher, potentially up to 1000 Megabits per second.
As part of the competitive process, the Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best rollout strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and/or high demand. This will need to be balanced with the most efficient network rollout plan. A prioritisation programme will be put in place in this regard, in consultation with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. A detailed rollout plan for the network will be published once contract(s) are in place.
The Programme for Government also commits to measures to assist in the rollout of the network once a contract is awarded. In this regard, Minister Humphreys is leading on the establishment of two regional action groups, working with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices and other relevant agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland, once a contract(s) has been awarded.
In a further positive initiative, last July, I established a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce with my colleague Minister Humphreys to address immediate issues in relation to the quality of mobile phone and broadband coverage. The Taskforce report, which was published in December, is available at the following link:
I recently signed Regulations allowing ComReg to proceed with the allocation of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band. This will provide an 86% increase in total spectrum available for mobile and fixed wireless services. I have also secured €8m for RTE which will allow it to free up the 700MHz spectrum band, to provide enhanced mobile services.
These investments should assist in significantly improving the coverage and quality of broadband and mobile voice and data services throughout the country, including County Meath.