Tuesday, 23rd April, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the 30Mbps minimum national broadband penetration plan will be rolled out to the rural area surrounding Dungarvan, County Waterford.
Reply from Minister Pat Rabbitte: Ireland’s telecommunications market has been fully liberalised since 1999 in accordance with the requirements of binding EU Directives. The market has since developed into a well-regulated market, supporting a multiplicity of commercial operators, providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms.
Details of broadband services available in each County, including County Waterford, can be found on ComReg’s website at www.callcosts.ie.
The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market has failed to deliver such services, as in the case of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) and the Rural Broadband Scheme. NBS services are available within 31 of the 130 Electoral Divisions in County Waterford. See table (above) for a list of these Electoral Divisions.
With basic broadband services widely available across Ireland, the focus is now on accelerating the roll out of high speed services. The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August last, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed services of at least 30Mbps are available to all of our citizens and businesses, well in advance of the EU’s target date of 2020, and that significantly higher speeds are available to as many homes and businesses as possible.
During the preparation of Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, the commercial market operators indicated that they expect to provide 70Mbps to 100Mbps services to 50% of the population by 2015. Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and mobile high speed broadband services, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas.
The Government is also committed in the Plan to investing in areas where high speed services are not commercially viable and will not be provided by the market. In an important milestone towards delivery of this commitment in the Plan, my Department will shortly appoint experts, to assist in the design, planning and procurement of the State-led investment. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations including stakeholder engagement will be on-going throughout 2013 with a view to the launch of a procurement process in 2014. It is expected that services will be available in areas such as Waterford after the procurement process is concluded and services are rolled out. It is likely that, Waterford may also benefit from parts of commercial roll out of high speed services.
Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, we are committed to increasing the availability of next generation speeds significantly, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in a digitally enabled society.
I would reiterate that the Government remains committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland, including all of County Waterford, will have at least 30Mbps connectivity, through public or private sector investment, as outlined in the National Broadband Plan.
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.