During the preparation of the National Broadband Plan which I published in August last, the commercial market operators indicated that they expect to provide 70 Mbps to 100 Mbps services to 50% of the population by 2015. The commercial sector is already making these investments in high speed services, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas. The Government is committed in the Plan to investing in areas where high speed services are not commercially viable and will not be provided by the market. My Department is making preparations to commence a formal national mapping exercise to identify where the market is expected to succeed and fail in the delivery of high speed broadband over the coming years. This will inform the level of Government interaction that may be required and the areas that need to be targeted for a State-led investment. It will also form a critical input to an EU State Aid application in respect of any State-led intervention.
In an important milestone towards delivery of the commitments in the Plan, the Government recently launched a tender for experts to assist in the design, planning and procurement of the State-led investment. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations including stakeholder engagement will be on-going throughout 2013 with a view to the launch of a procurement process in 2014. Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, we are committed to increasing the availability of next generation speeds significantly, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and business can participate fully in a digitally enabled society. I would reiterate that the Government remains committed to the delivery of the speeds referred to in the Plan, to ensure that all parts of Ireland will have at least 30 Mbps connectivity.