Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

National Broadband Plan

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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248. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes and premises in counties Laois and Offaly, respectively, that are still awaiting connection to broadband under the national broadband plan. [44372/20]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract signed in November 2019 to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the over 544,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools. In County Laois there are 39,721 premises of which 12,510 (31%) are in the intervention area for the National Broadband Plan. In County Offaly there are 37,255 premises of which 12,194 (33%) are in the intervention area. The NBP deployment plan forecasts premises passed in all counties, including Laois and Offaly, within the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State having access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

COUNTY Total Premises No. of premises within the Intervention Area for the NBP %
Laois 39,721 12,510 31%
Offaly 37,255 12,194 33%

I am advised by NBI that, as of 11 December 2020, over 149,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed which is ahead of the full year survey target of 120,000 that had been projected by the company. Surveys in County Laois have been completed around Portlaoise and in the areas of Rossbaun, Borris-On-Osssary and Coolowley. Surveys in County Offaly have been completed in the areas of Brosna, Shinrone, Mount Heaton and areas close to the county border with Tipperary. The next step is for NBI to develop network designs to deliver the new fibre to the home network to these premises, followed by pre build and build works.

Surveying is the first step towards delivering the new fibre network and involves physically walking the routes and documenting images, notes and measurements of the poles, cables and underground ducts in each area. This informs design solutions for provision of the fibre network to each and every premises in the surveyed area and leads to detailed designs. The detailed designs are then used to initiate the ‘make ready’ project with Open eir for the area, where Open eir ensure any poles and ducts being reused are fit for purpose and the make ready of other required infrastructure. This step also informs decisions on equipment ordering. Survey data is also needed to initiate pre-works which pave the way for the deploying of fibre. Pre-works involve construction of new duct routes, erection of poles, building chambers, and tree trimming. On completion of these pre-works, the main construction works can commence. This involves deploying fibre overhead on poles and in underground ducts, splicing of fibre, and unblocking of ducts. Once the main construction works are completed and the appropriate level of testing has been undertaken, the fibre network can be commissioned and end users can order their connection.

Further details are available on specific areas within Counties Laois and Offaly through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website . Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises as works commence. I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding the level of information available on the deployment of the NBI network and I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans.

Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 14 December, 221 sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly available sites and by the Department of Education for schools. 59 publicly accessible BCPs across the country are now live. BCP locations installed and connected in Co Laois include Emo Community Centre, Vicarstown Community Centre and Oisin House Rossmore. BCPs installed and connected in Co Offaly include Kilclonfert Community Centre Ballycommon Telework and Training Centre, Primo Coaches and Croghan Community Hall. Further details can be found at .

Killadooley National School and Gaelscoil an Tali Dála in Co. Laois have been installed by NBI for educational access as part of this initiative and St Joseph's National School and Shanganamore National School are now installed and connected. In Co. Offaly, Shinrone National School is now installed and connected. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise other schools with no high speed broadband within the intervention area for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan has just  been announced which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026.


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