I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 to 171, 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.That consultation was extended twice at the request of operators, resulting in a total nine week period for submissions and it closed on 30th September 2019.
My Department received over 180 responses 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 are assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Operators submitting planned investments are required to sign a declaration that they will enter into a Commitment Agreement with my Department if their plans satisfy the assessment criteria and are accepted as being concrete and credible.
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 is an important element in concluding the State Aid approval process with the EU Commission.
The NBP contract provides a mechanism for National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to apply for compensation for encroachment where other commercial operators have deployed a future proofed high speed broadband service in advance of NBI's own deployment in the intervention area.
This subsidy is capped and can only be applied for where my Department determines a commercial deployment of high speed broadband meets the requirements set out in the NBP contract, specifically a deployment of a fibre or equivalent high speed broadband technology, and that this deployment has had a negative impact on NBI's business case. The mapping consultation, which will confirm the intervention area prior to contract award, will reduce the risk of this element of contingency subsidy being required.
The specific capped subsidy for such operator encroachment, should it arise, forms part of contingency funding of €480 million (excluding VAT).