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 Header Item Hydraulic Fracturing Policy (Continued)
 Header Item Broadband Service Charges

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy] The letter stated that there is a physical danger of fire or explosion due to the migration of natural gas into water wells or through soils into dwellings where it could be ignited by sources that are present in most homes and buildings. It also stated clearly that the departmental investigation indicates that gas well drilling has impacted the water supply.

The worrying thing is that it was not the regulators who picked up on these problems but people who insisted that the Department of Environmental Protection carry out the tests. They were lucky enough to have baseline information, otherwise they would not have a leg on which to stand. It was up to the people. The companies will not notify and the regulators are not doing what regulators should do and we of all people know the consequences of that.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I have explained that any decisions down the line will have to be evidence based.   I do not know how Deputy Colreavy can draw the conclusions he has drawn. I would say to Deputy Boyd Barrett that I have very limited time these days to watch horror movies.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Minister should watch this one.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte However, there are plenty of experts who will say that what is on display in that particular horror movie is no longer up to speed in terms of the technology.

I am not a scientist and I do not have to make this decision. The reason we create agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, is that we, as policymakers, have expert advice available to us from people who are qualified to make these judgments. I share any concern there is about damage to the water tables in Ireland or to public health but I repeat again, because apparently there is a necessity to do so, that there is no fracking going on in Ireland.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Keep it that way.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Deputy Boyd Barrett should relax. His tap is perfectly safe. It will not go on fire until we at least get the EPA report. When get the report, we will discuss it.

Broadband Service Charges

 58. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the way the EU Commission’s proposals for reducing the cost of broadband will be transposed here; his views on the way Irish broadband costs for both business and personal customers compare to other EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27846/13]

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte On 26 March last the European Commission published its proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks. The Commission also submitted its proposal to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament as it is required to do as a preliminary step in the EU legislative process.

  The broad aim of the Commission's proposal is to allow investors planning to install next generation broadband infrastructure to identify and negotiate access to useful spare capacity within the infrastructure of other utilities operating in the electricity, gas, transport and water markets and to reduce or remove other identified barriers.

  Following publication of the proposal, the Council and Parliament, acting independently of each other initially, must consider the Commission proposal and adopt any amendments they deem necessary.

  Transposition within member states will not occur until the Council and Parliament reach agreement and publish a binding legislative text. It is only at that stage that any supplementary requirements, arising at the national level, to give full effect to the EU regulation can be assessed. It is my understanding that formal consideration of the Commission's proposal within the Council will commence in the coming weeks and a timeline for reaching conclusions on the proposal has yet to be set.

  In terms of international price comparisons, I would advise the Deputy that ComReg, the market regulator, operates an online call-costs website which allows the public to compare the broadband packages marketed by the competing broadband services providers in any country. It is then a matter for customers to decide the most advantageous package available. ComReg also publishes quarterly statistical reports, which include international comparisons of retail broadband prices for residential and business customers.

  The most recent report up to end 2012 shows that retail broadband prices in Ireland available to business users for fixed line broadband access and retail prices for pre-pay and post pay mobile broadband users are less than the EU average. The fixed line broadband charge for residential users exceeds the EU average.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  In the case of fixed line broadband access charges it should be noted that the comparisons do not take account of bundled services. There is an increasing trend of customers migrating to bundled service which provide some combination of fixed telephony, Internet access, TV and mobile telephony services. At the end of 2012, 44% of fixed line broadband customers in Ireland had contracted for a bundled service.

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