Question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr. Alex White, TD)

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to roll-out improved broadband services in County Cork, in particular to rural areas south of Cork city; when various areas will be serviced by faster broadband services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on  Thursday, 2 April 2015.

REPLY

The National Broadband Plan aims to ensure that every citizen and business, regardless of location, has access to a high quality, high speed broadband service. This will be achieved through a combination of commercial investments and a State led intervention in areas where commercial services will not be provided.

The commercial telecommunications sector is currently investing approximately €2.5 billion in network upgrades and enhanced services with approximately 1.6 million of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland expected to have access to commercial high speed broadband services over the next two years. These very significant investments represent a step-change in the quality of broadband services available.

Last November I published a national high speed coverage map for 2016.  The map shows Ireland with two colours, BLUE and AMBER. The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers plan to deliver high speed broadband services by end 2016. The AMBER areas on the map show the target areas for the State intervention. The website also provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the town lands in every county including Cork.

The map can be checked to establish the precise location of individual premises or residences. Any premises within the AMBER area will be included in the State’s intervention while any premises within the BLUE area will be serviced by commercial operators.

Intensive design and planning work is underway in my Department to produce a detailed intervention strategy for the AMBER area. Following a public consultation process on the draft Intervention Strategy this summer, I hope to move to formal procurement phase towards the end of this year in order to select a preferred bidder or bidders.

I anticipate that the first homes and businesses will be connected in 2016 and connections will continue thereafter, with the intention of having all premises connected within a 5 year period.

This complex and ambitious project is a key priority for Government. It aims to conclusively address current connectivity challenges in Ireland.