Written answers

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

National Broadband Plan

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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73. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the National Broadband Plan will be rolled out across County Donegal by townland and yearly quarter in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53603/21]

Photo of Ossian SmythOssian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire, 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 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 some 699 schools.

There are over 32,000 premises in the Intervention Area in County Donegal that will receive access to high speed broadband under the NBP and Government investment in Donegal under the NBP will be in the order of €128 million. I am advised by NBI that, as of 27 October, some 12,942 premises in County Donegal have been surveyed. Surveys are complete or underway in County Donegal in the areas of Letterkenny, Creeslough, Tamney, Bunbeg, Arranmore, Rutland Island/Burtonport and Inisfree Island/Burtonport. Surveying is the first step towards delivering the new fibre network and informs design solutions for provision of the fibre network. I am further advised that pre-build works are underway in Letterkenny.

Further details are available on specific areas within County Donegal 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 has a dedicated email address, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries. Given the scale and complexity of delivery of the new high speed broadband network under the NBP, I am advised that any dates provided by NBI on its website are based on the best available information at the time and may be subject to change.

In addition to the challenges to the delivery of the NBP due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has faced a range of other challenges due to the sheer scale and complexity of rolling out fibre to the home in a rural environment. These include significant tree trimming to ensure cable can be placed on overhead poles, remediation of ducting that has been in place for many decades, the co-ordination of hundreds of contracting crews and addressing the many issues arising week on week which could not have been foreseen until the build crews commenced work on the ground. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract. This plan addresses delays experienced by NBI, primarily arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and re-baselines milestones for 2021. Work is underway to re-baseline milestones for 2022 and beyond.

Given the nature of the build and ongoing work to address the impact of Covid-19 related delays, it is not possible to give specific details on a per townland and quarter year basis out to 2026.

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 27 October, 386 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. BCPs are connected at Rathlin Knitwear, Dunree Military Museum, Ray Community Centre, Glenveagh National Park, Malin Head, Tory Co-Op, Leghowney Community Centre, Meenreagh Hostel, Sliabh Liag Ranger Station, The Gweedore Theatre and Cranford Coole Community Centre. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Urbalreagh National School, Scoil Naomh Cholmcille, Drumfad National School, Scoil Naoimh Colum and Doaghbeg National School 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.


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