Clarity On Rollout Of Tipperary Broadband – M. Lowry TD

Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry gets clarification from Minister Richard Bruton TD, regarding the rollout of Broadband here in Co. Tipperary.

Speaking recently in the Dáil Éireann on the rollout of Broadband here in Co. Tipperary, Deputy Michael Lowry questioned Mr Richard Bruton, TD (Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment) asking that if, in light of the looming economic recession and massive expected deficit; the National Broadband Plan would proceed within the timeline announced in November last; notwithstanding the delays caused by the pandemic. He also asked the Minister to provide a current update on what progress had been made and the timescale involved for final completion.

In response to Deputy Lowry, the Minister stated “Within Tipperary the first exchange buildings have been surveyed and the relevant electronic equipment, from Nokia, has been ordered for delivery later this year.
National Broadband Ireland’s (NBI) site surveys are due to be initiated in the coming weeks. Once the surveys and detailed designs are completed the deployment of fibre can then be scheduled.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) were identified by Local Authorities to be connected to high speed broadband this year, including 8 in Tipperary. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband in advance of the main NBP deployment”.

Deputy Lowry recalled that previously in Dáil Éireann, the outgoing Government signed off on a €3billion National Broadband plan towards the end of November last. It was heralded correctly as the biggest ever investment in rural Ireland and the most significant since the rural electrification scheme, and the provision of a high-speed service to some 1.1million people across half a million homes, farms and businesses, same located largely in rural Ireland.

Just four months later we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that ground our country to a standstill. Life changed completely in the matter of a few short days. Offices and businesses closed across the country and those that could do so, were asked to work from home. Students left their desks and their education continued via online classes and electronically submitted homework. That is, of course, if you lived in an area where you had dependable internet and a reasonable broadband connection.
Never before was the need for reliable broadband in rural Ireland been more necessary
,” stated Deputy Lowry.

Mr Lowry further stated, “I have come across cases where people were unable to work from home and where students could neither receive or submit assignments. This issue is further compounded in areas of Tipperary where high speed broadband has been introduced but blackspots remain.” [Mr Lowry was referring to areas where the majority of properties have access to broadband, but just a few homes or businesses within the very same vicinity, receive little or no signal.]

“As recently as this morning I was contacted by a farmer who is living in an area of Co. Tipperary currently covered by a fibre broadband network. For over 12 months his closest neighbours have had access to a high-speed connection and while the actual fibre cable passes this farm entrance gates, he has been told that his connection cannot be completed as his property, like many traditional rural farm settlements is approximately 400 metres from the main road. He has been informed that it is not commercially viable to provide him with a connection at this time and he will have to wait to be connected under State Intervention through the National Broadband Plan,” Mr Lowry continued.

Mr Lowry concluded that while he knows that these are exceptional times. Such times conjures up a future glimpse of what the long-term future of living with Covid-19 could be like, with much of rural Ireland incapable of catering for these changes. “Simply”, he stated “high speed broadband is not and never has been a luxury for rural Ireland; it continues in fact to remain a measure of necessity.”

In his response, Minister Bruton stated that for the 29,647 premises within the intervention area within Co. Tipperary, to be served by the National Broadband Plan, there are a number of stages required within each deployment area. In order to roll out the new high speed broadband network, this would include (A) survey work to an informed and detailed design; (B) repair; (C) the making ready of activities conducted by Eir; (D) ensure poles are fit for purpose; (E) installation of electronic equipment to each exchange building; (F) development of IT systems within NBI to allow operators place orders; (G) scheduling of connections; (H) physical laying of fibre along poles and through prepared ducts, and finally, (I) upon receipt of an order from any future customer, to activate the final connection to the required premises.

NBI have mobilised their staff and contractors and are ramping up their capacity to deliver the project and to date 22,000 premises have been surveyed throughout Ireland.

While such activities are underway, all homes passed, will be able to receive a connection from NBI before the end of this year.


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