Access to broadband in Ireland is a policy matter for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, T.D. who has recently announced the launch of a nationwide Broadband Mapping Project. This is a key step in delivering the National Broadband Plan which commits to broadband speeds of 30Mbps and, where possible, higher speeds to all parts of Ireland through a combination of public and private investment.
The mapping exercise will help identify where broadband services are already in place or planned by service providers in the coming three years. It will identify the gaps in provision that need to be filled with state-supported investment. It will look at broadband availability in each locality and therefore will encompass all broadband users, both households and businesses. My Department is supportive of this initiative and looks forward to the outcomes of the exercise, particularly in the context of the availability of broadband for businesses.
My Department is also working closely with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in relation to an initiative in the Action Plan for Jobs to increase the number of businesses trading on-line. The objective of this initiative is to achieve a step-change in the number of businesses, and particularly small businesses, trading on-line for the first time. It will provide a voucher of up to €2,500 to companies to support them in commencing to trade on-line. My officials are working with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on finalising the arrangements for the scheme which will be run on a pilot basis in 2013 prior to a wider roll-out in 2014.