Thursday, 18 November 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
145. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when a premises (details supplied) will be connected by National Broadband Ireland; the reason the date for the completion has moved from 2021 to 2025; the reason for this delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56700/21]
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 the over 554,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with some 699 schools.I am advised by NBI that, as of 5 November, almost 274,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed or have surveys underway and over 125,000 premises have build underway. NBI has also advised that the first premises are connected in Cavan, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Monaghan and over 30,000 premises are available to order and pre-order across 12 counties.
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. The 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. This has resulted in some changes to timeframes for connection for end-users.
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. NBI has recently published details of its full deployment schedule on its website, www.nbi.ie, which enables all premises within the intervention area to have an anticipated service activation date range.
The network rollout for the National Broadband Plan is divided into 227 Deployment Areas (DAs) across the country. These are typically an area of approximately 25km in radius and in total they cover 96% of Ireland’s landmass. Counties are generally made up of a number of DAs which means there are differing timescales for connection across county areas. My officials raised the specific issue referred to in the Question with NBI who confirmed that the associated date for anticipated service activation was published for the first time in September 2021 and no other date(s) had previously been published for this premises. There are nearby Deployment Areas in Ballinasloe and Galway City with different activation dates but this premises does not fall within these Deployment Areas.
I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network in the immediate term, 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.
146. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount applied for and drawn down to date under the encroachment element of the contingency subsidy that is capped at €100 million in the context of the National Broadband Plan; and if he has received a request to decrease or increase that capped threshold. [56719/21]
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has not applied for or drawn down any contingency subsidy in respect of encroachment by another operator in the Intervention Area.The Department has engaged extensively with industry since 2013 through multiple public consultations to determine as accurately as possible where commercial operators have existing high speed broadband networks and where they have plans over the next 7 years to deploy high speed broadband networks. The Department's High Speed Broadband Map (available at broadband.gov.ie) shows the extent of the State Intervention area and also the areas targeted by commercial services as notified by industry to the Department through these consultations.
The NBP contract provides a mechanism for National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to apply for compensation for encroachmentin the event that other commercial operators have deployed a future proofed high speed broadband service, of a fibre or equivalent high speed broadband technology, in advance of NBI's own deployment in the intervention area. This contingent subsidy can only be applied for in specific circumstances and is subject to robust governance mechanisms. The encroachment element of the contingency subsidy is capped at €100m and can only be applied for where the Department determines a commercial deployment of high speed broadband meets the requirements set out in the NBP contract, specifically a deployment of a fibre or equivalent high speed broadband technology, and that this deployment has had a negative impact on NBI's business case. The consultation on the NBP map that was carried out in the second half of 2019 in advance of contract award, which established industry’s up to date infrastructure and future plans, has reduced the likelihood of the encroachment element of the contingency subsidy being sought.
147. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when broadband will be rolled out to a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56729/21]
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. My Department has now prioritised primary schools with no high speed broadband and continues to work with the Department of Education in this regard. An acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by the end of 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) estimate that 200 schools will be installed by the end of this year with all 679 schools connected by end 2022. Two schools have already been installed under this initiative in County Roscommon. While the anticipated date for installation at the school referred to in the Question had been Q4 2021, NBI has now informed my Department that due to complexities in the technical design which are being worked on presently, the revised installation date is Q1 2022.