I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 14 and 16 together.
The Government’s recently published national broadband plan aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high-speed services of at least 30 Mbps are available to all of our citizens and businesses well in advance of the EU’s target date of 2020, and that significantly higher speeds are available to as many homes and businesses as possible. The plan commits to high-speed broadband availability across the country and specifies that 70 to 100 Mbps will be available from commercial market operators to more than half of the population by 2015. At least 40 Mbps, and in many cases faster speeds, will be available to at least a further 20% of the population - and potentially as much as 35% - during the lifetime of the Government. Finally, a minimum of 30 Mbps will be available to every remaining home and business in the country, also during the lifetime of the Government. During the preparation of the national broadband plan, the commercial market operators indicated that they expected to provide 70 to 100 Mbps services to 50% of the population by 2015. The precise areas to be provided with those services will be determined by the commercial market operators.
One of the first steps in delivering on the 30 Mbps and 40 Mbps commitments will be the completion of a formal national mapping exercise to determine the exact position with regard to commercial service providers’ existing and planned broadband services throughout the country. Preparatory work has commenced within my Department to expedite this task. The mapping exercise will identify the areas of the country in which there is a market failure in the provision of high-speed broadband services. It will also identify where the market is expected to succeed in the delivery of high-speed broadband over the coming years. This process is expected to take several months to complete and until then, the precise areas of the country which will require State intervention will not be known. It is likely, however, that rural areas, including those covered by the national broadband scheme, NBS, will require intervention. Roll-out will be targeted to commence in 2014, when the mapping, state aids and procurement processes are complete and when the current contract for the national broadband scheme expires.
I reiterate that the Government remains committed to the delivery of the speeds to which I referred, in order to ensure that all parts of Ireland, including rural or remote parts of the country, have access to modern high-speed broadband services.