Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (526, 527)

Barry Cowen

Question:

526. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the costed alternatives that were considered in relation to the national broadband plan; and the amount each alternative would have cost. [21709/19]

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Timmy Dooley

Question:

527. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the cost-benefit analyses conducted by his Department or on behalf of his Department with regard to each alternative option considered for the national broadband plan; the costs of each of the options considered; the meetings and or communications with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to these options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21710/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 526 and 527 together.

The availability of high speed broadband to every home in the country will unlock the door to equal participation in digital transformation which is already transforming our lives and will continue to bring fresh opportunities which will be crucial to operations in Irelands regions

My Department commissioned a comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis on the NBP as is a mandatory requirement under the public spending code. A CBA Benefits report and a detailed benefits calculation annex were published in 2015. This CBA was updated over the last four years and the finalised CBA was published earlier this month.

Alternative options for delivering high speed broadband were also considered in the context of only one bidder remaining in the process and this analysis has also been published. Each of these alternatives were considered against the CBA framework.

In stress testing a number of alternative options, it is not expected that a full CBA be carried out, rather it was to evaluate the salient changes that other options would bring, and evaluate them in the context of the general framework of benefits and costs. Some options sought to reduce the area covered, to alter the technology, to delay the roll out, or to alter the model underpinning the tender. This all involved an examination of costs, potential changes, state aid requirements etc.

That analysis concluded that these alternatives would take longer to reach 100% of the premises in the Intervention Area and in some scenarios would involve leaving some premises behind. In addition, the analysis concluded that the alternatives considered could potentially result in a higher cost to the State, would require a consultation on a new strategy, along with a new procurement process and State aid application. Some of the alternatives considered were unlikely to provide the level of future proofing required under the European Commission's Strategy for a Gigabit Society.