Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Rural and Community Development
National Broadband Plan
41. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the roll out of the broadband connection points; the number of publicly accessible broadband points that are now live by county; the number of these that are on offshore islands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43333/20]
55. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the timeframe for the planned remaining broadband connection points in south western areas of County Cork to be completed. [43578/20]
67. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the establishment of a network of broadband connection points in counties Longford and Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43608/20]
74. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the establishment of a network of broadband connection points in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43596/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 55, 67 and 74 together.
Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are among the first deliverables of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and will provide high-speed broadband connectivity to publicly accessible sites in rural and isolated areas of the country, including a number of our off-shore islands. These sites will be provided with a temporary wireless connection by National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company contracted to deliver the NBP. This connection will remain in situ until the sites have been given a permanent connection under the NBP.
As of last Thursday, 10th December 2020, 162 sites had the initial connection established by NBI. Of these, 133 had been passed to Vodafone to install their equipment to provide broadband services to the site. Vodafone had installed their equipment at 113 of these sites up to last Thursday and are continuing with their installations.
In addition to the substantial investment already made in the BCPs, my Department is planning to develop the facilities and services available at these sites. Included in this programme is the use of eHealth technology at BCPs. If successful, this could reduce the need to travel from remote areas to towns and cities for many medical appointments.
My officials are also exploring the use of BCPs as educational settings, as remote working hubs and as locations for the creative arts.
Under Budget 2021, I secured an additional €5 million to enhance remote working capability and remote access for students at BCPs and digital hubs across rural Ireland next year.
The location of all BCPs which have been installed or which are planned across the country is available on NBI's website, www.nbi.ie.