Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions (257)

Barry Cowen


257. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the stage his Department is at in reviewing the 130 responses to the public consultation on the national broadband plan; if this process needs to be completed before the contract for the NBP is signed; when he expects the public consultation process to fully conclude; when he expects the contract to be signed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42854/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department recently consulted publicly to close the ongoing mapping exercise, seeking submissions from operators who wish to have their existing high-speed broadband networks, or who have developed plans to invest in high speed broadband networks over the next 7 years, to be included on the Department’s High Speed Broadband Map. In response to requests from a number of operators, the duration of that consultation was extended by more than 5 weeks. My Department received over 180 responses to the mapping consultation from a variety of stakeholders, including 30 from large and small telecoms operators, with the remainder from local authority broadband officers and members of the public.

Operator submissions will be assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Operators submitting planned investments were required to sign a declaration that they would enter into a Commitment Agreement with my Department if their plans satisfied the assessment criteria and were accepted as being concrete and credible.

The findings of the consultation will ensure that the State Intervention Area is up to date and reflects commercial operators’ plans and the responses from householders and businesses, in advance of a contract being signed later this year.

This will be an important element in concluding the State Aid approval process with the EU Commission.