Thursday, 28 November 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
National Broadband Plan
32. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which the national broadband plan addresses the requirements nationwide; the extent to which other options have been examined; the main benefits of the plan now in process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49408/19]
The National Broadband Plan will bridge the digital divide that is emerging between urban and rural areas. High speed connectivity has multiple potential positive impacts on the lives and livelihoods of citizens throughout the country. The National Broadband Plan will ensure that those benefits can be enjoyed by the 1.1 million people living and working in the Intervention Area, in nearly 540,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms and 695 schools where commercial operators will not commit to deliver this service.
It will encourage and facilitate new models of service in Health, Education and in Enterprise and help communities to benefit from new economic activities. More people will be able to work remotely, receive services in their own homes, and have access to technologies that will make for smarter living, learning, farming and business.
The Government decision to appoint NBI as preferred bidder in May of this year was informed by detailed analysis of alternative options to deliver the NBP. That analysis, which was published on my Department’s website in May, considered additional short term and longer term options, for example, the establishment of a State Agency for broadband delivery, designation of a new mandate to an existing State body such as the ESB, or the use of 4G and 5G technologies.
The analysis shows that all of the alternative options identified would take longer to reach 100% of the Intervention Area premises compared to the current plan, may be more costly, in most cases would require a consultation on a new strategy as well as a new procurement process and State Aid application, and may not provide the level of future proofing required under the Commission’s strategy, “Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society”.
The deployment of the network will quickly bring tangible benefits to those living in rural areas. Next year communities will be able to avail of high speed broadband services at approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points in rural locations around the country.
The Bidder is aiming to pass 115,000 premises by the end of 2021, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.
No matter where a person lives in Ireland, the National Broadband Plan will ensure equality of opportunity to fully participate in the digital society.