I propose to take Questions Nos. 604 and 607 together.
As advised in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 685 of 31 January, 2017, there are no plans to sell the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) and in this regard, no valuation exercise has been carried out to assess the current market value of the MANs.
enet is the Management Services Entity (MSE) which manages and operates the 88 MANs on a wholesale open access basis on behalf of the State. Following an open tender process, enet was appointed in July 2004 for a 15 year term to manage the 28 Phase I MANs. In July 2009, following a further open tender process, enet was awarded a 15 year contract to manage the 60 Phase II MANs. I recently finalised decisions relating to the management of the MANs to provide that the current Concession Agreements co-terminate in 2030, in line with the relevant contractual provisions. This provides certainty to the market, and ensures that the MANs fibre networks will continue to play a key role in the delivery of telecommunications services in the regions during a dynamic period in the wider market.
An independent evaluation of the operations of the MANs, including pricing of all MANs products and services to ensure that they are within market norms, is currently underway. The consultants are expected to finalise their deliberations by the end of June, following which my Department will engage with enet regarding any recommendations that may emanate from the consultant’s review.
enet also has private, commercial interests outside of its MSE role. In this regard, enet Telecommunications Networks Ltd (trading as enet) provides national backhaul services and manages private networks, including the development of wholesale fibre to the business (FTTB) networks which utilise the MANs infrastructure. These FTTB networks which are targeted at small and medium sized enterprises have already been constructed in Ardee, Claremorris, Kilkenny and Loughrea. The company recently announced similar network investments in Ballinasloe, Ballybofey, Ballyshannon, Buncrana, Bundoran, Castleblayney, Cootehill, Donegal Town, Manorhamilton and Stranorlar.