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Minister Clarifies National Broadband Plan For Kildare

Fifteen per cent of Kildare’s 89,500 premises will require state intervention if the government are to follow through with their plan to provide high speed broadband to all premises in Ireland. That’s according to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Denis Naughten who was responding to an inquiry by Kildare North TD Frank O’Rourke. The Government has colour coded areas in Ireland, blue and amber.

The ‘Amber’ areas are those that may not receive sufficient broadband support by the commercial providers. In Kildare, the areas with a majority of buildings in Amber zones are Kilmore, Knockanally, Cappagh, and Bareen. The Minister added that three broadband providers are tendering to fulfill the state intervention role and this process is on-going.

The exchange, in full, is as follows:

Frank O’Rourke (Kildare North, Fianna Fail)

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when a person can expect to receive a broadband upgrade, in view of the fact that the quality of service and the current connections speeds are not fit for purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Denis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)

I propose to take Questions Nos.

657 to 662, inclusive, together. The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed broadband services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment by the telecommunications sector and a State intervention in those areas where commercial investment has not been fully demonstrated.

The National Broadband Plan will provide high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector so that to date approximately 1.4m or 61% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland can get high speed broadband of a minimum of 30 Megabits per second and this footprint is expanding. In April, eir signed an agreement with me committing them to follow through on their commercial plans to provide new high speed broadband infrastructure to 300,000 premises in rural areas. eir has committed to doing this work over a 90 week period with an average of 500 premises passed per day. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s website . The decision by eir to invest in infrastructure to deploy high speed broadband services to an additional 300,000 premises in rural Ireland was taken by eir on commercial grounds. Neither I nor the Department have a statutory authority to direct eir in this regard. Quarterly updates on progress of the eir 300k roll-out will be published on the Departments website. The Q1 figures have been verified by my Department and the eir roll-out is in line with the Commitment Agreement.

In April I published an updated High Speed Broadband Map which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. This map finalises the State Intervention Area for the procurement process and is an important milestone in the procurement process. The Map shows the extent of the State Intervention area and also the areas targeted for commercial services.

– The BLUE areas represent those areas where commercial telecommunications providers are either currently delivering or have indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services,

– The AMBER areas on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the areas that will require State Intervention and are the subject of the current procurement process. There are over 89,500 premises in County Kildare of which c.13,400 or 15% fall within an AMBER area and will be part of the State led Intervention under the NBP. The remaining 85% fall within a BLUE area and will be covered by commercial operators; this includes c.9,100 premises that form part of eir’s plans to deliver rural high speed broadband between now and end 2018 (Light BLUE on map). Information on eir’s planned rural deployment is available at .A breakdown of the townland areas the Deputy refers to are included in the table. Specific premises information can be obtained by accessing the High Speed Broadband Map and entering the premises Eircode at www.broadband.gov.ie

County Townland AMBER Premises within the NBP intervention area BLUE Premises covered by commercial operators LIGHT BLUE Premises in the planned rural deployment Total Number of premises in townland Kildare Ballycaghan 1 1 48 50 Kildare Ballyoulster 2 88 0 90 Kildare Barreen 9 0 0 9 Kildare Cappagh 57 0 7 64 Kildare Donaghcumper 17 760 0 777 Kildare Killbrook 17 0 25 42 Kildare Killeenlea 7 0 17 24 Kildare Kilmore (Ed Cadamstown) 44 0 3 47 Kildare Kilmore (Ed Carbury) 13 0 5 18 Kildare Knockanally 40 0 0 40 Kildare Newtown (Ed Donaghcumper) 67 183 0 250 Kildare Turnings 0 0 7 7 Kildare Turnings Lower 2 6 29 37 Kildare Turnings Upper 12 0 34 46

My Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network within the State Intervention Area. The State Intervention network will be a wholesale network and retail service providers will be able to use the network to provide enhanced broadband services to their customers.

The procurement process is being intensively managed, to ensure an outcome that delivers a future-proofed network that serves homes and businesses across Ireland, for at least 25 years. The three bidders have indicated that they are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home solution. A fibre-to-the-home solution means that householders and businesses may get speeds not just of 30 Megabits per second but much higher, potentially up to 1000 Megabits per second. With the finalisation of the map and following extensive dialogue with bidders, the procurement is progressing to the next stage. On 20 June 2017 my Department wrote to the three bidders in the NBP procurement process inviting them to submit their “Detailed Solutions” by 26 September 2017. The ‘Detailed Solutions’ stage is the last stage of the procurement process before Final Tenders.. The timeframe for the procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team and bidders, during the procurement process.

The Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best roll-out strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and/or high demand. The rate of demand for data services has increased exponentially in the last four years and this presents a continuing challenge for telecommunication operators, regulators and policy makers both in Ireland and internationally. Recognising this challenge, I specifically included in the Programme for Government a commitment to a Mobile Phone and Broadband Task force. In July 2016, I established the Task Force to identify immediate solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and investigate how better services could be provided to consumers, prior to the full build and roll-out of the network planned under the National Broadband Plan State intervention. The report of the Task Force was published in December and is available on my Department’s website.

In producing this report, the Task Force worked with Departments, local authorities, ComReg, State agencies, the telecoms industry and other key stakeholders. The report contains 40 actions that will alleviate some of the telecommunications deficits across Ireland and the implementation programme on mobile phone and broadband access identifies 19 of these actions as areas where immediate and direct action by Departments and State agencies can ensure accelerated benefits to consumers. In order to maintain momentum created by the Task Force, I established an Implementation Group to drive and monitor the implementation of the actions, bringing together all key stakeholders identified in the Task Force report with responsibility for delivery. This group will be formally reporting every 90 days on progress made on all actions. I published the first such quarterly progress report on 13 June 2017, which is available on my Department’s website atwww.dccae.gov.ie/documents/Taskforce%20Q1%20Progress%20Report.pdfand which shows that considerable progress has been made, particularly in relation to the implementation of actions identified for Q1 2017. The work of the Task Force will also assist local authorities in preparing for the roll-out of the new NBP network once contracts are in place.

In addition, following regulations which I signed last year, ComReg recently announced the results of its auction for the 3.6GHz radio spectrum band, which means an 86% increase in spectrum capacity to meet the growing demand for mobile and wireless broadband services across rural and urban areas. The Regulator has awarded 15 year licences for the rights of use in this band which will provide a degree of stability and create future investment certainty. Spectrum was also awarded in lots covering 9 urban and rural regions across the country. In my Department’s Estimates for 2017, I have secured an EUR8 million provision for RTE to allow it to free up the 700 MHz spectrum band. ComReg in turn will make plans to allocate this spectrum to provide for significantly enhanced mobile coverage.

The 700 MHz band is particularly suited to rural environments where the signal can travel long distances.

These initiatives should assist in enhancing the quality of mobile phone and data services across Ireland and particularly in rural Ireland.

India Has More Gigabit Internet Users Than China

Though China is the world’s largest internet market with more than 750 million users, more than double that of India, in terms of high speed broadband, India has more Gigabit internet users than China. India has a total of 9.5 million Gigabit internet users or those who use broadband speed of more than 1000 Mbps compared to China’s 7.9 million such users. In terms of population coverage, India’s Gigabit internet users represent 0.7% of the country where as the same for China is at 0.5%. The top three broadband providers that offer internet at Gbps speed in India are Spectranet with 6 million customers, ACT Fibernet with 3 million customers and Hayai Broadband with 10,000 customers, according to Viavi Gigabit Monitor.

This data is revealed by test and measurement company Viavi’s upgraded Gigabit Monitor portal that tracks the world’s Gigabit internet users as well as the service providers. According to this portal 219 million people globally now have gigabit internet available to them, representing roughly 3 percent of the global population. There are currently 603 gigabit internet implementations, a jump of 72 percent since June 2016. The United States has the highest number of people with access to gigabit internet (56.4 million) with a population coverage of 17 percent.

Singapore currently has the highest proportion of citizens with gigabit internet availability at 95 percent. South Korea has the second highest number of citizens with gigabit availability (46.7 million), representing 93 percent of its population. According to its data, a total of 41 countries offer Gigabit broadband to their citizens. Of the current gigabit installations tracked by Gigabit Monitor, unsurprisingly, 91 percent are based on fiber – with cellular connections accounting for 3.65 percent, HFC accounting for 5.26 percent, and WiFi making up less than 1 percent. However, with many launches of gigabit LTE and 5G expected in the near future, the scale of cellular gigabit connectivity is expected to change significantly.

This is reflected in Viavi’s State of 5G Trials, which shows that 25 mobile operators are currently lab-testing 5G, with 12 of those reporting that they have progressed to field trial. The Gigabit Monitor is a web-based tool intended to showcase the state-of-play of gigabit internet provision across the world, based on publicly available data. The new Gigabit Monitor has been upgraded to display dynamically updated infographics showing the current state of gigabit internet provision in all 41 countries where it is available.

Each country’s profile displays the estimated population coverage, global ranking, gigabit launches over time and a listing of local gigabit providers.

Auction of 3 broadband projects approved

ISLAMABAD – The Board of Directors of Universal Service Fund (USF) Company on Thursday approved the auction of three broadband projects during a meeting chaired by Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom Anusha Rahman. The approved broadband projects include Khyber Lot, Mohmand Lot and Small Lot-2. The board also approved the awarding of contract for Establishment of Computer Labs in Government Girls Schools in Rural Areas of Islamabad Capital Territory, Phase 1. The board also approved the phase-II of the ICT for Girls project of establishing computer labs and computer skills training programme in 119 Girl’s Institutions of Islamabad Capital Territory. The board also took into consideration the agenda pertaining to the provision of Information and Communication Technology to micro, small and medium enterprises in Pakistan.

The micro, small and medium enterprises in Pakistan can be termed as the backbone of the economy because they constitute nearly 80 percent of the enterprises in Pakistan. The board directed the USF management to carry out a market study to understand the landscape of issues in ICT for MSMEs and prepare recommendations. Board members including the IT Secretary Rizwan Bashir Khan, Member Telecom Mudassar Hussain, Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim, ISPS VP Azfar Manzoor, Consumers Association Chairman Kaukab Iqbal and the senior management of USF also attended the meeting.