It has been Government policy for some time that State entities should avail of commercial opportunities to facilitate the deployment of infrastructure to the telecommunications market. A number of commercial State companies and non-commercial State bodies are currently leveraging their infrastructure in this way and have contributed to the marked improvement in broadband services in recent years. I am aware that the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), for example, recently sought a joint venture partner to deploy and manage, as a wholesale service provider, access to a fibre-to-the-building network capable of providing next generation broadband services, using the existing electricity network infrastructure. These initiatives are consistent with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) which reaffirms the Government’s commitment to using State Assets to help accelerate the roll-out of next generation high speed broadband.
The NBP also recognises that Government intervention will be required to ensure a minimum marketed speed of 30 megabits per second will be available in those parts of the country the competitive market will not serve. The NBP estimates required public funding will be significant, in the region of €175 million. The actual level of investment will be decided in a future competitive procurement process managed by my Department. There will be a number of technologies and solutions capable of meeting the qualitative requirements. It is not appropriate for me to express a preference for any one potential solution or applicant over others prior to the completion of the procurement process.