Dáil Éireann - Volume 459 - 05 December, 1995

Written Answers. - Telecommunications Facilities in Border Areas.

177. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if his attention has been drawn to the inadequate high technology telecommunications facilities in the Border region; the plans, if any, he has to ensure that these facilities, including the provision of fibre optic cable, are [459] improved in order that maximum benefit may be derived from the peace process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18114/95]

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): I have had no indication that the present standard of telecommunications infrastructure in the Border areas is unsatisfactory. The development of Telecom Éireann's network and infrastructure is, however, a day-to-day operational matter for the company and I am precluded under legislation from interfering in such matters.

I have brought the content of the Deputy's question to the attention of Telecom Éireann's management and the company has informed me that the Border regions are already served with modern high speed transmission links and that continuous upgrading and extensions are planned over the next few years. In that context, I am satisfied that high technology telecommunications facilities in the Border areas will continue to be developed and will further enhance the economic potential of these areas.

Telecom Éireann has submitted applications for EU assistance for a number of projects under the INTERREG programme. These projects involve fibre optic cabling and exchange replacement and upgrades along the Border region totalling approximately £16 million. All the applications for funding under the INTERREG programme, including those submitted by Telecom Éireann, are currently being examined by my Department in conjunction with independent consultants to ensure consistency with the aims and objectives of the programme. That examination will be completed shortly, after which it will be necessary to liase with the European Commission concerning the investments to be funded. Telecom Éireann's proposals, if approved, will serve to further [460] enhance other measures, including those relating to the peace process, in support of the economic development of the Border region.