The Government appointed National Broadband Ireland as the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan in May. This followed a tender process designed to ensure that every home and business throughout the country will have access to future proofed high speed broadband and will cater specifically to an estimated 1.1 million people, representing almost 25% of the population of rural Ireland who would not otherwise have access to such a service. Since then my officials have been performing the due diligence work needed before a contract can be concluded.
My Department recently consulted publicly 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. Over 180 submissions have been received 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 will be assessed against the Department’s published assessment criteria. Operators submitting planned investments were required to sign a declaration that they would enter into a Commitment Agreement with the Department if their plans satisfied the assessment criteria and were accepted by the Department as being concrete and credible.
The findings of the consultation will ensure that the State Intervention Area is up to date and 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 EU Commission.