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The need for improved broadband quality and availability in East Cork has been raised in Dail Eireann by Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton.

“I sought an update on the roll out of the National Broadband Plan, specifically the state led investment part, from the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White TD, as I am still very concerned at poor broadband coverage in many areas of East Cork. The National Broadband Plan aims to deliver high speed quality broadband to all citizens and businesses and will be broken into two parts, one where broadband will be delivered by the commercial telecommunications sector, and the other part which will involve the state taking responsibility to provide broadband where commercial companies will not roll out services.

“Unfortunately, there remain many areas where I continue to receive complaints to my office from citizens, businesses and rural schools regarding poor quality internet, such as Knockraha, Ballymacoda, Shangarry and other rural areas outside Fermoy and Midleton. While internet service provision has improved in recent years, there remain many homes in these areas that only have limited access even to satellite broadband services and can have problems with connectivity and speed. Also these services can be considerably more expensive than standard services through efibre or phone lines.

“I understand from Minister White that a comprehensive mapping exercise has been underway by his Department for some time and has identified a significant number of areas that will require State investment. As part of this process stakeholder submissions were sought and these have very recently been published on the Department’s website. In November, an interactive map will be published which people can use to identify their home and see if it is in the proposed area for state intervention. If it is not, this means that it either has, or will soon have access to high speed commercial broadband.

“Minister White outlined that for the state to be able to invest in broadband provision, EU clearance is need but that he hopes to obtain this next year, hopefully mid-2015. A public consultation will also be launched at this time. Once state aid clearance is obtained, a public procurement process will commence to select a preferred bidder or bidders to deliver broadband to areas that require it.

“I was pleased to hear the Minister confirm that the delivery of quality universal broadband services to citizens businesses and schools remains a key priority for the Government. I believe this is essential. I was pleased to hear also that he is considering including rural primary schools in the National Broadband Plan now that the project to deliver broadband to all second level schools has been completed.