Written answers

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

National Broadband Plan

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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124. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been brought to a situation (details supplied); the analysis that has been carried out into the possibility of installing a black box for the houses concerned; the reason these nine houses have been excluded from the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan to date; the timeline for their connection under the National Broadband Plan; the reason for the delay in carrying out the surveying of this area; when the surveying will be carried out in respect of this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [63476/21]

Photo of Ossian SmythOssian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)
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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. My Department has made enquiries to see if a commercial broadband network provider would consider connecting this  premises and neighbouring premises to its fibre network. The company stated that this premises is almost 550m from the nearest fibre connection via its network and that the houses to the rear that have fibre are fed from a parallel road and the service provider does not have any plans to serve the additional premises. I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get 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 7 January, over 290,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed. Surveys are complete or underway in County Galway in the Deployment Areas of Galway and Ballinasloe, Gurteen, Kilkerrin, Duniry and Lettermore. Pre-build works are underway in Gort, Athenry, Loughrea and Inverin. In total over 6,800 premises are available to order or pre-order in Galway.

Further details are available on specific areas within County Galway 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.

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. 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.

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 7 January, 449 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 installed at Ballinakill Community Centre, Clonberne Community Enterprise Centre, Cortoon Community Centre, Leitrim Community Centre, Halla Pobal Thír An Fhia (Tír An Fhia Community Hall), Clarenbridge Nursing Home, Kilronan Library, Tuam Golf Club, Lackagh Heritage Centre and Museum,  Old Secondary School, Lettermullen Community Centre, Clonfert Community Hall, Inishbofin Community Centre, Sylane Hurling Club, Irish Workhouse Centre and Comhar Na Noileán. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

Carnmore National School, Clontuskert National School, Scoil Mhuire, Ballinakill National School, Briarhill National School, Brownsgrove National School, Mweenish National School, Saint Joesph's National School, Kilcroan National School, Scoil Caomhain, Saint Colman's National School, Ballinlass National School, Scoil Ui Cheithearnaigh, Saint Mary's National School, Cahergal National School, Scoil Seamus Naofa and Scoil Naomh Brighde 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 2020 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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