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Parliamentary Question re: Broadband in Rural Kildare

[Ref No.: 18512/15]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when e-fibre broadband will be available to residents on the Timahoe-Hodgestown Road near the Coolcarrigan, County Kildare mast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor.
*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 12th May, 2015.

(793  Received on 6th May, 2015.)
Ref No: 18513/15

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when rural areas such as Thomastown, Enfield, County Meath which appear to be beyond the reach of Eircom’s commercial efibre rollout, may expect to have access to efibre broadband under the Governments National Broadband Plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 12th May, 2015.     Ref No: 18513/15
REPLY

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White)
I propose to take Questions Nos.612 and 613 together.
The National Broadband Plan is delivering high speed broadband to every home and business in Ireland regardless of its location. This is being achieved through a partnership between Government and commercial telecommunications companies.
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. This map is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. The map shows Ireland with two colours, BLUE and AMBER.
The areas marked BLUE represent those areas that will have access to commercial high speed broadband services by end 2016.
The AMBER areas on the map show the target areas for the State intervention and includes the townlands of Timahoe East, Timahoe West, Hodgestown and Coolcarrigan in Co Kildare and the townland of Thomastown in Co Meath. Members of the public can consult the map to establish for themselves the precise location and status of their individual premises. All premises within the Amber area will be included in the State’s intervention.
More generally, I can confirm that next generation broadband services have been rolled out to over 54,000 premises to date in Kildare, with a further 13,600 expected to be served over the next 18 months. The remaining 20,500 premises in County Kildare, including premises in Timahoe, Hodgestown and Coolcarrigan are the target for the proposed State intervention under the National Broadband Plan.
In relation to Co Meath, next generation broadband services have been rolled out to over 28,200 premises to date, with a further 23,000 expected to be served over the next 18 months. The remaining 50,800 premises in County Meath, including premises in Thomastown are the target for the proposed State intervention.
Intensive design and planning work is underway in my Department to produce a detailed intervention strategy for the AMBER area. In accordance with EU State Aid guidelines, the procurement process will be technology neutral.
I intend to launch a consultation on the Intervention Strategy under the National Broadband Plan this summer with a view to moving to formal procurement towards the end of 2015 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 and aims to conclusively address current broadband connectivity challenges in Ireland.