Thursday, 28 November 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Broadband Service Provision
31. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the potential benefits of high speed broadband with respect to healthcare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49344/19]
33. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the anticipated expansion of the digital economy; the role broadband will play in allowing Ireland, particularly in rural areas, to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49342/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 31 and 33 together.
The availability of high speed broadband services in rural communities will have a transformative effect on these parts of the country. High speed broadband will allow citizens and businesses in rural communities to enjoy broadband speeds comparable to and in many cases better than speeds available to those living in towns and cities. This will enable rural communities to avail of the opportunities presented by the digital economy including healthcare, education, farming, rural development and tourism.
High speed broadband services will allow farmers and farming communities to avail of new and emerging technologies that rely on a fast and reliable broadband service. Farmers can benefit through smart farming which allows increased production quality, remote monitoring of livestock, lower operational costs, reduced impact on the environment, better security technology and easier interaction with State bodies online.
The benefits of high speed broadband to people’s healthcare include enabling remote monitoring of older and vulnerable people in their homes, improving home-based care as an alternative to hospitalisation and the increased use of video medical appointments.
In addition, the provision of high speed broadband in rural Ireland is of critical importance in areas such as flexible and remote working. Remote or home-working is becoming an increasingly prevalent employment model, including amongst overseas firms that continue to invest in Ireland. This area of the economy is projected to double over the next 5 years. It will also afford national and international employers better access to a wider catchment of skilled workers, even where offices and businesses are located within more rural areas.
An initial enabler to rural communities will be the early roll out of community based Broadband Connection Points. It is expected that 298 Broadband Connection Points will be established and providing a high speed broadband service by the end of 2020.