Director of Services at Sligo County Council Dorothy Clarke wrote to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) team at the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment in November 2016 stating, "At a recent meeting of the Municipal District of Ballymote-Tobercurry, the Council Members requested information on the Government’s plans to roll out the National Broadband Plan in rural County Sligo. I would appreciate if you could let me have information as to the current status of the plans to roll out the National Broadband Plan."
The motion was tabled by Fianna Fáil's Cllr Jerry Lundy.In a reply on 5 January 2017 the NBP replied with the following letter;
"The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment by the telecommunications sector and through a State intervention in those areas where commercial investment has not been fully demonstrated.
The Department is now in a formal procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll out a new high-speed broadband network within the State Intervention Area, comprising over 750,000 premises including approximately 18,600 premises in Co Sligo, covering 100,000km of road network and 96% of the land area of Ireland.
Intensive dialogue with bidders is continuing and the three bidders have indicated that they are proposing a predominantly fibre-to-the-home solution. Householders and businesses may get speeds not just of 30 megabits per second but potentially up to 1000 megabits per second with businesses potentially availing of symmetrical upload and download speeds.
Earlier this year, before I came into office, the Department announced that it would be June 2017 before contract(s) were awarded under the NBP. The bidders in the process have recently indicated that they may need more time to conclude the procurement process. The timing of each stage of the procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team and bidders, during the procurement process. Bidders need adequate time to prepare detailed proposals and their final formal bids.
In addition, bidders need adequate time to get the relevant shareholder and funding approvals at key stages of the process. It is also important to ensure that risks in this multi-million euro procurement are carefully managed. I do not propose to comment any further on timelines at this juncture, given that discussions are on-going in the procurement process. I can assure the Deputy, however, that the procurement process is being intensively managed, to ensure an outcome that delivers a future-proofed network that serves homes and businesses across Ireland, for at least 25 years. The Government considers the NBP to be one of the most significant investments in rural Ireland for decades, and one that will transform society, akin to rural electrification in the last century.
During the Department's extensive stakeholder consultations in 2015, telecommunications service providers indicated a 3-5 year timeline to rollout a network of the scale envisaged under the NBP. As part of the competitive process, the Department will engage with winning bidder(s) on the best rollout strategy, in order to target areas of particularly poor service, business needs and/or high demand. This will need to be balanced with the most efficient network rollout plan. A prioritisation programme will be put in place in this regard, in consultation with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. A detailed rollout plan for the network will be published once contract(s) are in place.
The Programme for Government also commits to measures to assist in the rollout of the network once a contract is awarded. In this regard, Minister Humphreys is leading on the establishment of two regional action groups, working with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices and other relevant agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland, once a contract(s) has been awarded.
The High Speed Broadband Map, which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie shows the extent of the State Intervention area:
The areas marked BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have previously indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services.
The areas marked AMBER on the High Speed Broadband Map represent the target areas for the State Intervention which are the subject of the current procurement process.
The map provides information on a county by county basis with a breakdown of coverage across the townlands in every county including County Sligo. Members of the public can view whether their premises in Sligo are in the BLUE or AMBER area by accessing the High Speed Broadband Map and entering their Eircode."
See also: Sligo Today 5/1/2017