Written Answers - Telecommunications Services

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 732 No. 2

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  89.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan   asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources  Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte   the extent to which he expects to meet the highspeed broadband requirements of the entire country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11082/11]

  90.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan   asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources  Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte   his preferred options for delivery of high speed broadband to all areas throughout the country with particular reference to domestic and commercial needs and to facilitate economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11083/11]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 90 together.

The provision of electronic communications services, including broadband, is, in the first instance, a matter for private sector service providers. Significant improvements have been made in recent years in terms of broadband availability and broadband quality. For example, broadband products with speeds ranging from 25 megabits per second (mbps) up to 100 mbps are now available to over 500,000 premises using coaxial cable. Basic telephone lines now provide digital subscriber line quality (DSL) offering speeds of up to 24 mbps, depending on distance from exchanges. In addition to these improvements in fixed line services, developments in wireless technologies are also delivering higher speeds. WiMax products, which are [309]increasingly available, offer speeds of up to 10 mbps while mobile broadband speeds of up to 21 mbps are also available in some areas.

Under the NewERA proposals in the Programme for Government there is a commitment to co-invest with the private sector and commercial Semi State sector to provide Next Generation Broadband to every home and business in the State. Consideration of how best to advance these proposals, for which my colleague Minister of State O’Dowd has specific responsibility, is being advanced by my Department with other stakeholders across Government.

In order to accelerate the development of high speed broadband, my colleague, the Minister of State Deputy O’Dowd, and I intend to engage intensively with industry. The discussions will focus on identifying private and State sector investment plans, removal of barriers to investment where appropriate, and establishing appropriate targets and programmes. The Next Generation Broadband Taskforce (NGBT), which includes representatives of large and smaller telecommunications network providers, will consider how best to roll out Next Generation Broadband. The NGBT will meet shortly to discuss policy and related matters. I expect that the NGBT will be helpful in terms of identifying the optimal policy position to deliver wider customer access to high-speed broadband.


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