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National Broadband Plan (NBP)

The national broadband plan is a Government policy initiative that aims to bring high speed broadband to every premises in the state.  High speed broadband is defined in the plan as 30Mb/sec always-on broadband.  The delivery of the plan is broken into three main streams:

  1. Areas where providers can deliver the service on a commercial basis
  2. New areas where commercial operators have committed to concrete plans to deliver high speed broadband in rural areas.
  3. Areas where state intervention is required to subsidise the delivery of service.

In Westmeath, 58% of premises fall within the first category.  These are the areas shaded in blue on the National Broadband map.  15% of Westmeath premises fall into the second category, i.e. premises to be covered by planned commercial rural broadband projects.  The remaining 27% of premises, shaded amber on the National Broadband map are in the third category and will form part of the state subsidised rollout.

Procurement of service providers for the amber state intervention area is ongoing.  Detailed negotiations are currently taking place with three shortlisted bidders.  No date has been set for completion of the procurement process, however rollout is expected to get under way in 2018.  It is expected that this rollout will take between 3 to 5 years to complete.  See most recent statement (4th July 2017) from DCCAE in relation to NBP procurement process.

Local Authority Role

At Government level the NBP is being coordinated by the  Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment(DCCAE), who are carrying out the procurement of the state-intervention provider(s) and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) who are responsible for rolling out the NBP.

DAHRRGA have engaged with the local authority sector with a view to facilitating and streamlining the rollout of the NBP, to ensure that there are no barriers to its smooth rollout and to engage directly with the selected NBP company when rollout starts.  Each local authority will establish an NBP project team and a broadband officer.

Westmeath County Council’s project team has been established and is led by Mark Keaveney, Director of Services and comprises staff from the LEO, Community Development, Planning, Transportation and ICT Departments.  A designated broadband officer has also been appointed.  The purpose of this group and the role of the broadband officer is to assist in the rollout of the national broadband plan by:

  • Developing a digital strategy for Co. Westmeath
  • Ensuring that there are no obstacles to the timely rollout of the project
  • Identifying priority areas within the state-intervention area for early adoption of high-speed broadband
  • Developing co-development plans to ensure that any local infrastructure projects take broadband roll-out into account
  • Creating a single point-of-contact between the appointed NBP contractor and the Council

The National Broadband Plan Map

The national broadband map is available on the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment’s website.  A downloadable version of the Co. Westmeath map is available.  This map is under constant review by the Department and can be used to determine whether your property lies in the blue or amber areas.  The interactive map can be zoomed in to show individual property locations, which will assist in identifying your precise location.

The High Speed Broadband Map  identifies locations and premises as being AMBER, BLUE or LIGHT BLUE.

AMBER areas - which are the target areas for the State Intervention of the National Broadband Plan. The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce has identified measures in the short term to improve broadband connectivity including in the Amber areas and work is underway to implement these measures.                 

BLUE areas - where commercial operators are delivering or have indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services. Operators are continuing to enhance their services in these areas to improve access to high speed broadband and to increase speeds to meet consumer demand and customer requirements.   Please contact Broadband@DCCAE.gov.ie if you cannot get High Speed Broadband from the providers in your area.   

LIGHT BLUE areas - new areas where commercial operators have committed to concrete plans to deliver high speed broadband in rural areas. The commercial rollout to these areas is primarily Fibre to the Home (FTTH). By 2018, all homes and businesses in these Light Blue areas can expect significant improvement to their broadband services.

You can check if your premises is located in an amber or one of the blue areas by either:

  • entering your Eircode or address into the Search box on the map (if you don’t know your Eircode, you can get it on the Eircode website
  • zooming in to your location.

Important Message for Those In Blue Areas

If your premise is in a BLUE area

  • run a line speed check www.speedtest.net If your speed checks are consistently below 30Mbps), you need to
  • check with ALL operators in your area to see if you can get high speed broadband.
  • If you cannot get a high speed broadband service, you need to Contact the Department – broadband@dccae.gov.ie .  Include your Eircode, a copy of your line speed check results and confirmation of the operators you have contacted.

Subject to your permission, the Department will then:

  • Raise the query with participating operators whose commercial plans are on the high speed broadband map.
  • If commercial plans are yet to materialise, provide you with an approximate timeframe for the availability of high speed broadband to your premises.

Where commercial plans have been rolled out and it is established High Speed Broadband is not available to your premise, nor will it be available from any

other operator on a commercial basis, your premise will be included in the AMBER area (Intervention Area).

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