Written answers

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

National Broadband Plan

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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10. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when an area (details supplied) will be able to avail of efibre broadband. [15173/22]

Photo of Ossian SmythOssian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)
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The Question refers to 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 close to a fibre network, owned by a commercial operator, 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 11 March 2022, almost 311,000 premises have been surveyed or have survey underway, with over 157,000 premises constructed or under construction across all counties. NBI has also advised that premises are connected in 16 counties; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Wexford and Wicklow and almost 60,000 premises are available to order and pre-order across 22 counties. In County Westmeath pre-works are underway in the Deployment Areas of Athlone and Delvin and main works are underway in the Deployment Area of Mullingar, with almost 6,000 premises under construction and over 1,000 premises now available to pre-order. I am advised by NBI that it expects the premises referred to in the Question to be passed and available for connection in H1, 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 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, 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.

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 11 March 2022, 523 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. In County Westmeath 6 BCPs have been installed to date including Clonkill Hurling Club, which is approximately 5.5km from the premises referred to. Further details can be found at nbi.ie/bcp-locations/.

In County Westmeath 4 schools have been installed by NBI to date 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. Further details of schools in scope are available on the NBI website at nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.


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