I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 to 213, inclusive, together.
As a State intervention, the NBP must comply with the requirements of the European Commission’s Guidelines on the application of State aid rules for broadband networks. 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.
Having consulted with industry on an ongoing basis, my Department recently conducted a final public consultation to close the mapping exercise in advance of the award of the NBP contract. Over 180 submissions were received from a variety of stakeholders, including 30 from large and small commercial telecommunications operators, with the remainder from local authority broadband officers and members of the public.
The European Commission approved the NBP under state law and confirmed that the NBP target areas where no broadband infrastructure offering download speeds of at least 30MB/s is currently in place, and where no private investor has demonstrated a concrete plan to invest commercially in the near future.
Having evaluated the submissions received, approximately 38,000 premises were removed from the intervention area as commercial operators provided evidence that these premises can now access a high speed broadband service from an existing network. These premises relate to network deployment detailed in submissions received from eir (34,000 premises) regarding its fibre rural network and SIRO (4,000 premises) as part of its wider fibre network rollout, which were evaluated as meeting the assessment criteria published by the Department.
In addition, approximately 37,000 premises originally identified as being served by commercial operators have now been included in the intervention area for the NBP, as commercial operators' plans to serve these premises have not materialised.
The map has also been updated for approximately an additional 2,000 premises identified in the latest Ordinance Survey Ireland data. The final Intervention Area now covers 537,596 premises.