I propose to take Questions Nos. 478 to 480, inclusive, together.
As a State intervention, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of the State aid rules on broadband. The Guidelines require, amongst other things, that Member States carry out a detailed mapping exercise to identify as far as reasonably possible those areas where intervention is required.
The Department recently conducted a public consultation to close the ongoing mapping exercise, seeking submissions from operators who wished to have their existing high speed broadband networks, or who had 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.
Operator submissions were assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Analysis of the submissions has been completed and the changes made to the NBP High Speed Broadband Map as a result, have been made public.
The details of the commercial operator submissions and the outcome of the Department’s assessment of these submissions were shared with ComReg and also the European Commission prior to the Commission reaching its decision approving State Aid on 15 November 2019.
Operator submissions that met the assessment criteria were removed from the Intervention Area. The revised Intervention Area of 537,596 premises represents only those areas where there are no commercial operators providing a high speed broadband network that meets the necessary criteria.
It should be noted that no operator made a submission with respect to a future plan in line with the rules of the consultation.
The Department is currently consulting with operators who made submissions in the public consultation, with a view to publishing non-confidential versions of these submissions on the Department’s website in the coming weeks.
The network deployment is planned on the basis of 110 areas across the country of approximately 5,000 premises each. The subsidy will be paid to National Broadband Ireland (NBI) in arrears as each of the 110 areas is completed. The subsidy is broken down into payments for premises “passed” and premises “connected”. Subsidy for connecting premises is only paid after a high speed broadband service has been ordered for the individual premises.
The NBP network will be predominately fibre, but other technologies including wireless technology may be also be used.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) publishes a quarterly report, which highlights trends in the telecommunications industry. This includes the number of subscriptions in Ireland to high speed broadband services by speed (e.g. download speeds of 30 megabits per second) and by platform (fibre, cable, VDSL etc.). The latest report can be found at https://www.comreg.ie/publication/quarterly-key-data-report-q2-2019