Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (888, 889, 890)

Barry Cowen

Question:

888. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if clarification will be provided to the comments made by An Taoiseach in Dáil Éireann on 1 October 2019 regarding the national broadband plan; if a company (details supplied) challenged the maps that caused the delay at the time; the nature of the challenge made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45572/19]

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Barry Cowen

Question:

889. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to his comments in Dáil Éireann on 15 October 2019 regarding the national broadband plan, the providers or bodies that requested the extension for the deadline of submissions for the national broadband plan; if a company (details supplied) requested same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45573/19]

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Barry Cowen

Question:

890. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the intervention area for the national broadband plan in terms of the number of premises; when the consultation process in terms of the map will terminate; if the intervention area will be less than the original estimate of 540,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45574/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 888 to 890, inclusive, together.

My Department recently conducted a public consultation 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.

The consultation was extended twice, which provided for a nine week consultation period and closed on 30 September. These extensions were at the request of a number of telecommunications operators, including the operator referenced by the Deputy. Over 180 submissions were received from a variety of stakeholders, including 30 from large and small commercial operators, with the remainder from local authority broadband officers and members of the public.

Operators submitting planned investments were required to sign a declaration that they will enter into a Commitment Agreement with the Department if their plans satisfy the financial and technical assessment criteria and are accepted by the Department as being concrete and credible. My Department is in the process of finalising its assessment of these submissions.

The findings of the consultation, which will be available in the coming weeks, will ensure that the State Intervention Area is up to date and that it 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 European Commission.