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National Broadband Plan

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 6 November 2019

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Questions (169, 170, 171)

Barry Cowen

Question:

169. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the State is liable to pay compensation to the preferred bidder with regard the national broadband plan in the event the mapping area ends up being smaller than the original mapping area indicated to the bidder at the time preferred bidder status was awarded; if so, the amount of compensation in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45702/19]

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Niamh Smyth

Question:

170. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises served by a company (details supplied) in the intervention area of the national broadband plan; the number that will be served by the end of 2019; if the preferred bidder will be provided with compensation for these premises if the national broadband plan contract is signed through an encroachment contingency; if the preferred bidder has been assured of these payments in the event that the contract is signed; the actions taken to ensure this is within state aid rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45722/19]

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Niamh Smyth

Question:

171. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a subsidy in the context of a conditional and contingency subsidy for the national broadband plan will be paid to a company (details supplied) in the event that a commercial operator encroaches into the intervention area; the method by which encroachment will be deemed to have taken place; the amount within the €480 million which has been set aside for this purpose; if such payments are limited to the contingency only; and when these payments will be made. [45723/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

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).

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