Dáil Éireann - Volume 657 - 18 June, 2008

Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.

Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position in respect of the provision of broadband for Lacken and Valleymount, County Wicklow; if same will be rolled out as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23988/08]

  Deputy Eamon Ryan: The provision of broadband services is, in the first instance, a matter for the private sector. Broadband service providers operate in a fully liberalised market, regulated, where appropriate, by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg. Details of broadband suppliers, prices and locations throughout the country are available on www.broadband.gov.ie.

The role of the Government is to formulate regulatory and infrastructure policies to facilitate the provision of high quality telecommunications services by competing private sector service providers.

The widespread provision of broadband services continues to be a priority for the Government. In that regard my Department has undertaken initiatives to address the gaps in broadband coverage. These included providing grant-aid under the Group Broadband Scheme (GBS) and ongoing investment in Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs).

Although broadband is now widely available in Ireland there are still some parts of the country where the private sector will be unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband services. These areas are being addressed by the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), which will provide broadband services to areas that are currently unserved and will ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband are met.

The first phase of the NBS procurement process (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)) is now complete. The remaining candidates have been engaged in “Competitive Dialogue” with my Department and are developing their proposed solutions to meet my Department’s requirements.

[226] Judicial Review proceedings regarding certain elements of the NBS mapping process took place on 10 and 11 June 2008 in the High Court and a judgement is awaited. While the outcome of the Judicial Review cannot be anticipated, it is currently expected that a preferred bidder for the NBS will be selected in September 2008, with rollout to commence as soon as possible thereafter.