High speed broadband on the way for Mullingar townlands from August

 

This week, Peter Burke, Minister of State for Planning and Local Government met with the CEO of National Broadband Ireland, the company responsible for the roll out of the National Broadband Plan.  The Mullingar Minister said he had been getting a huge volume of queries in relation to the roll out of the plan and wanted a full debrief of the areas in Westmeath that are to be covered this year and in subsequent years.

“The National Broadband Plan has been a government priority for a number of years.  It is a massive contract, worth €3 million to NBI over 25 years and more than ever, we have seen how important connectivity is in regional and rural Ireland.  The pandemic has exposed the gaps in our broadband provision, and it must now be our number one priority to ensure we can fill these gaps without further delay”.

Burke met with the CEO of NBI Peter Hendrick, along with the Chief Executive Officer of the company TJ Malone to raise issues highlighted to him by constituents both in Mullingar and more rurally across the constituency.  Mullingar is one of 55 Deployment Areas, out of a total of 227, where the total surveying is complete and plans are in place to lay the fibre in the coming period with broadband being offered from August.

“I received positive news from the CEO in relation to representations I made on behalf of constituents in Mullingar who are without high speed broadband; the surveying has been carried out and is complete with 4109 premises covered.  These will be connected between August and October 2021.  This will be extremely welcome news for the families in these areas, who have been corresponded with by NBI already.

Currently there are 11,721 premises in Westmeath without high speed broadband, which reflects 26% of the total premises in the county.  Government have committed €46 million to the project and by the end of 2022, 42% of these will be connected to high speed broadband.

Nationally, NBI have 544,000 premises to provide broadband to and physical surveys must be carried out for each of these individually. The build involves a design stage for each home/business, followed by pre works, readying existing structures, upgrading and adding poles and ducts, laying fibre, preparing blackhaul facilities and fulfilling Local Authority requirements such as tree trimming.  At this point, NBI “pass” the premises with fibre and the customer can order broadband from existing providers such as Eir, Vodafone, Virgin Media etc who manage the retail end, with NBI as the wholesaler.

“I also raised the issue of rural broadband which is vital for our communities across the county.  Due to the sheer scale of the project and the commitment that every single home will be provided with broadband, the project length is six years.  Most premises in this county will be complete ahead of this, but still it is too long for us to wait.  Further funding has been provided by the Government and the Tánaiste has prioritised this through the remote working strategy.

“I have been advised today that talks are ongoing with Eir to shorten the overall duration and provide broadband in a speedier fashion.  Resources are not the issue here, or staff; NBI currently have 900 full time workers and are currently recruiting more, so that their full staff will shortly total 1800.  I explained in detail how vital it is for Rural Ireland to get this broadband so we can continue to compete and provide employment and opportunities in our rural towns and villages.

“While it is imperative that every rural home can have reliable broadband for work and for vital educational purposes, for those households who have not been surveyed there is another option.  The Broadband Connection Points are sites across the county where you can access high speed broadband, with remote working options being developed.  We have 7 community centres as well as 17 schools included in this list, which is available online or from my office.

“If you have a query about the plan for your house or business, you can log on to NBI and input your Eircode to find out more.  You can also be added to an email mailing list so that you will be updated on the scheduled roll out plan for your area.

“Providing broadband to our regional and rural homes, businesses and farms is absolutely critical and is a political priority for myself and my team.  I continue to engage with NBI and explore options with the Tánaiste and government partners to speed up the delivery of the NBP and serve Westmeath homes with high speed broadband as soon as physically possible”.

-ENDS-