Parliamentary Question No. 415 on Tuesday, 18th December, 2012
To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will outline the steps a citizen can take when attempting to remedy a problem with broadband internet access which has been provided by the telecommunications company awarded the national broadband scheme contract when efforts to resolve the issue with the company have not progressed.
– Seán Kyne.
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr. P. Rabbitte)
In December 2008, my Department entered into a contract with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (“3”) for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), following the conclusion of a competitive dialogue procurement process. The objective of the NBS is to deliver broadband to certain target areas in Ireland in which broadband services were deemed to be insufficient. Since October 2010, “3” has made broadband services available in all of the 1,028 Electoral Divisions (ED) designated to be covered under the Scheme.
Following the recent contractual upgrade to the NBS mobile broadband product specifications, the minimum download speed increased from 1.6Mbps to 2.3Mbps while the minimum upload speeds increased from 1.2Mbps to 1.4Mbps, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 18:1. The combined data allowance increased from 25GB to 40GB. As foreseen in the NBS contract, “3” may, for technical reasons associated with the location of the premises, deploy a satellite solution in a limited number of cases.
My Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Under the NBS contract, specific service level agreement (SLA) standards are in place, which define the service and support levels to be provided by “3” to NBS subscribers. The NBS contract imposes a service credit regime on “3”, with financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. It also provides that where NBS customers do not receive the minimum guaranteed service as set out in the terms and conditions of their contract, they are entitled to service rebates.
Any NBS customer experiencing problems with the NBS service can contact 3’s customer care centre 24 hours a day 7 days a week by phone at 1913 (free of charge) or via email to email@example.com. A team of field engineers has been established to address NBS specific maintenance issues at customers’ premises.
My Department has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and consider that their complaint has not been resolved. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 who will then liaise with personnel employed by 3 at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy their service performance issues.