The contract awarded to National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is for the sale of wholesale broadband services only in the designated areas.
As the network is built consumers will be notified that they can order from their broadband service provider of choice, such as eir, Sky, Vodafone, or a local broadband provider. The price that NBI can charge for connecting each home or business and the monthly rentals, are fully regulated by the contract with the Minister. Prices charged must also be benchmarked to the regulated prices allowed by ComReg each year to ensure prices remain in line with urban areas over the 25 years of the contract. The initial maximum connection charge to a home that NBI is allowed to charge is €100. This charge is paid by the broadband service provider (e.g. eir, Sky, Vodafone, or a local broadband provider) to NBI. Thereafter the maximum monthly wholesale charge for a home buying a 150Mbps service is capped at €30. This is similar to the charge levied by eir’s wholesale division in urban areas.
It was a requirement under the State Aid rules that subsidy could only be awarded to a wholesale only network provider of broadband services. This will ensure that consumers have the choice of many retail broadband providers similar to consumers in urban areas. Similar to offers available in urban areas, consumers in rural areas will also be able to buy multiple services through bundled packages including broadband, fixed and mobile voice, TV and other services from retail operators, in what will be a competitive market. This will ensure choice and competition in the market for broadband, to the benefit of all residential and business consumers.