Digital Black Spots will continue in Clare. – BREEN.

January 29th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has warned today that the Government will not deliver on their commitment that would be 100 per cent coverage in Ireland by 2010, when they announced the rollout of services under the National Broadband Scheme. Deputy Breen claims that originally the contract for this Scheme was supposed to be signed by July 2008 and everyone in the country was to have the capacity to receive broadband by the end of 2009, and later the time-scale was pushed back to mid-2010. Now that deadline is being pushed back further to 2012 and there is no guarantee that all rural areas in Clare will have blanket coverage by then. Deputy Breen claims our broadband infrastructure is light years behind many of our EU neighbours and that improving our broadband technology is critical if we are to develop our ‘smart’ economy.

Deputy Breen made his remarks following comments made by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan in response to a recent parliamentary question tabled by the Deputy Breen.

“Under the National Broadband Scheme, the Minister promised that in the NBS Coverage area that all areas would have broadband by the end of September 2010, however, it looks very unlikely now that this deadline will be met, with Minister Ryan admitting that his Department is considering a request from 3 for an extension to the date.

Furthermore, in spite of all the commitments that all areas would have the capacity to receive broadband by 2010, it is clear that many rural areas will continue to sit in digital darkness. While, 33 Electoral Divisions in Clare have already received broadband under the National Broadband Scheme, with plans to extend broadband to 16 other Electoral Divisions, the reality is that several rural areas will remain without any service.

For instance, take an area like Caherea in Lissycasey, they are left in Digital Limbo. I recently enquired from Eircom as to whether they have any plans to extend broadband into this area and they have informed me that they have no plans to upgrade the Lissycasey exchange as they say it is “uneconomical for eircom” to do so. At the same, while the Electoral Division of Lissycasey is covered by the NBS, they have no plans to extend broadband to this area of Caherea either.

Minister Ryan has accepted that even after the roll-out of the NBS is completed there will still be a “percentage of premises that will not be capable of receiving broadband services”, as a result of this it now appears that a further Broadband Scheme will be introduced to cover “unserved rural premises outside of the NBS areas.” The deadline for the delivery of broadband is being pushed back again, this time until to 2012.

There has been a lot of talk centred on the development of Ireland in to a ‘smart’ economy; however, our broadband infrastructure is light years behind many other European Countries in terms of delivery broadband to all parts of the Country and even in terms of the speed of our internet connections. The latest findings from the latest Forfas report should be a wake up call for this Government. Only 5% of Irish Broadband can offer speeds above 10Mb/s compared to other EU countries such as Portugal (47%), Belgium (45%) or Sweden (34.5%). There has been a lot of talk in recent days about the Mid-West Task Force Report. It highlighted the fact that “high quality, accessible, low-coast broadband as critical to the emergency of the knowledge economy and urged the Government to accelerate investment in next generation broadband.

While this Government has broken various deadlines for the delivery of Broadband, Fine Gael on the other hand has a radical plan which would see Ireland rapidly upgrade our aging broadband infrastructure during these difficult times. Under our NewERA Plan we would eliminate the “digital divide”. If this Country is to restore our competitiveness then the Government should take our proposals on board, otherwise, several rural areas will continue to sit in digital darkness.”
ENDS.
PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION No. 925

Dail Eireann

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress to date in the provision of broadband to rural areas under the national broadband scheme; the areas of County Clare which remain without broadband; his plans to extend broadband to these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pat Breen.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010.

Ref No: 1431/10

REPLY

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr E Ryan)

In December 2008, my Department entered into a contract with “3”, a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS). The company is required to provide services, using a mix of technologies, to all fixed residences and businesses that are located within the NBS Coverage Area and which seek a service.

3 continues to progress its network rollout and services have gone live in almost half of the 1,028 designated Electoral Divisions (ED) to be covered under the Scheme.

With particular reference to County Clare, the table below shows the 49 EDs to be covered under the NBS in the County and highlights the 32 EDs that can now avail of the NBS broadband services. Details of all the areas to be covered by the NBS, including the status of the NBS rollout, are available at www.three.ie/nbs. Under the NBS contract, all EDs in the NBS Coverage Area will have broadband connectivity by end September 2010. My Department is currently considering a request from 3 for a short extension to the roll-out period due to delays in network construction during the recent adverse weather conditions,

It is accepted that even after the full roll-out of the NBS there will still be a small percentage of premises that will not be capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.). The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. My Department is currently considering the detailed design and implementation of a scheme which would address the issue of unserved rural premises outside of the NBS areas.

It is hoped to commence the scheme this year with the identification of premises not capable of receiving broadband and to have the scheme completed by 2012. State Aid approval has been granted by the European Commission as part of the overall process of securing the necessary approvals and funding for the scheme.

Electoral Divisions (EDs) included under the NBS in County Clare

Note: Highlighted EDs have NBS service
ED Name ED Reference No.
Abbey ED 37001
Ayle ED 37003
Ballyeighter ED 37008
Ballynacally ED 37010
Cahermurphy ED 37019
Carran ED 37022
Castletown ED 37025
Clondagad ED 37030
Cloonadrum ED 37031
Cloonanaha ED 37032
Clooney ED 37034
Clooney ED 37035
Cloontra ED 37036
Coolmeen ED 37038
Cooraclare ED 37040
Creegh ED 37044
Derreen ED 37047
Doonbeg ED 37049
Drumellihy ED 37052
Fahymore ED 37060
Feakle ED 37061
Gleninagh ED 37065
Glenmore ED 37066
Kilfenora ED 37075
Kilfiddane ED 37076
Killadysert ED 37079
Killanena ED 37081
KIllard ED 37083
Killimer ED 37087
Killokennedy ED 37090
Killuran ED 37092
Kilmihil ED 37093
Kilmurry ED 37094
Kilseily ED 37100
Kiltannon ED 37102
Kiltoraght ED 37104
Knock ED 37106
Knocknaboley ED 37107
Knockagore ED 37108
Kyle ED 37109
Lackareagh ED 37110
Liscasey ED 37112
Loughea ED 37115
Newgrove ED 37127
Noughaval ED 37129
Oughtmama ED 37132
Rathborney ED 37137
Rathclooney ED 37138
Tullycreen ED 37152