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Written Answers - Telecommunications Services

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 132.  Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin  asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  his views on a matter regarding broadband (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19575/12]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Ireland’s telecommunications market has been liberalised since 1999 and since then has developed into a well-regulated market, supporting a multiplicity of commercial operators, providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms. Details of broadband services available on a county-by-county basis can be found on the Commission for Communications Regulation’s (ComReg) website at www.callcosts.ie.

The State is not a provider of services, except in instances of clear market failure such as in the cases of both the National and Rural Broadband Schemes. Such interventions are always subject to EU State Aid clearance to ensure no unacceptable level of market distortion takes place. The general area of Rathmore, County Kerry is covered under the National Broadband Scheme (NBS). Broadband services under this Scheme are available since October 2010, from the NBS service provider, 3, to persons with a fixed residence or fixed business in all NBS designated areas, including Rathmore.

In keeping with State aid clearance for the Scheme, the broadband service contracted under the NBS is an affordable, scaleable product, which currently offers minimum speeds of 1.6Mbps download and 1.2Mbps upload subject to a maximum contention ratio. As regards service quality, my Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. The NBS contract guaran[193]tees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on 3, the NBS service provider, with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. Should any NBS customer experience problems with the NBS service, they are advised to contact 3’s customer care centre, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, by phone at 1913 (free of charge), via email to nbssupport@three.ie or by post to 3 Customer Services, Hutchison 3G Ireland Limited, PO Box 333, Dublin 2.

I should add that my Department also has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and feel that their complaint has not been resolved. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie, with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service. Where a customer has unresolved problems with their NBS service, they can contact my Department, which will then liaise with 3 personnel at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy their service performance issues. The combination of private investment and State interventions in broadband provision means that Ireland will meet the EU Commission’s “Digital Agenda for Europe” target of having a basic broadband service available to all areas by 2013.

The Government accepts that the widespread availability of high speed broadband is a key requirement in delivering future economic and social development. With basic broadband services now widely available across Ireland, the challenge is to accelerate the roll out of high speed services. The Next Generation Broadband Taskforce (NGBT), which I convened last summer, is currently finalising its deliberations which are expected to identify how best to deliver wider customer access to high speed broadband generally. The next steps, following completion of the NGBT report, will be to bring the report to Government before consulting with the wider public for their views. Building on the work of the Taskforce, it is my intention to publish a National Broadband Plan for Ireland later this year, which will set out a range of policy commitments and actions aimed at accelerating the rollout of high speed broadband across Ireland.


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