Thursday, 15 July 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
National Broadband Plan
141. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will provide details of the way new builds are incorporated into the National Broadband Plan if they do not have an Eircode at the time of initial rollout planning and are therefore not included in plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38716/21]
The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract 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 over 544,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools ensuring no premises is left behind. The NBP network will offer those premises in the Intervention Area a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 500Mbps from the outset. It was a requirement of the Contract to provide high speed broadband services to all premises in the Intervention Area, including new premises built over the lifetime of the Contract. Therefore, NBI will be required to both pass and connect new premises in the Intervention Area over the 25 year term of the Contract.
The NBP High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website www.broadband.gov.ie shows the areas covered by the State led intervention as well as those targeted by commercial operators. The AMBER area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led intervention. BLUE areas are not included in the State intervention area covered by the NBP, as commercial operators are already providing high speed broadband or have indicated future plans to do so. My Department defines high speed broadband as a connection with minimum speeds of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload. The activities of commercial operators delivering high speed broadband within BLUE areas are not planned or funded by the State and my Department has no statutory authority to intervene in that regard.
An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses, and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory issues a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to the Department which enables a process to update the NBP map to take account of new builds in the intervention area. Any new premises that is captured in the GeoDirectory file that is located within the geographic area of the intervention area will be captured in the scope for the NBI rollout regardless of whether an eircode has been assigned.
142. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will address a matter in which a number of properties are struggling to get connection to adequate broadband and the installation date has been pushed back by National Broadband Ireland (details supplied). [38771/21]
The Question refers to a premises located in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map which is available on my Department's website www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER area represents the area to be served by the network to be deployed under the NBP State led intervention.
I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot obtain a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway.
I am advised by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) that, as of 8 July, over 233,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed. Surveys are complete or underway in County Westmeath in Mullingar, Sonna, Stonehall, Taghmon, Jamestown, Hopestown, and Athlone. Pre-works have commenced in the areas around Mullingar. NBI has advised that surveying is underway in the area where the premises referred to is located and they anticipate that high speed broadband should be available for connection in the first half of 2022.
Further details are available on specific areas within County Westmeath 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 www.nbi.ie. 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. NBI also has a dedicated email address, email@example.com which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.
While substantial progress has been made to date, the Covid 19 pandemic has had an impact on the delivery of the fibre network resulting in delays to aspects of the programme. Impacts include challenges with mobilisation of key contractors, restrictions on operations, supply chain and logistic delays (both nationally and internationally). Covid 19 has affected the recruitment of key personnel as NBI and its contractors scale up including challenges associated with on-boarding and training people. Inevitably, like many other organisations, NBI and contractor staffs are at risk of contracting Covid 19 or may have to restrict their movements as a result of being a close contact posing further challenges. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract to address the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic on the project.
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 8 July, 335 BCP 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 accessible sites and the Department of Education for school BCPs. BCP’s are connected at Whitehall Community Centre, Streete Parish Park & Community Hall, Milltown Emper Community Centre, Ballycomoyle GAA Club, and Clonkill Hurling Club. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/ .
Scoil Náisiúnta Bhride and Naomh Micheal have been installed by NBI for educational access. My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise 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 was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026. Further details are available on the NBI website at nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/ .