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Speech by Minister Denis Naughten on Topical Issue Debate on the National Broadband Plan

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5th July 2017

In recent days there has been some ill-informed commentary in relation to the National Broadband Plan. I believe it is important that I state the factual position for the record of this House.

The National Broadband Plan is a Government priority and will deliver high speed broadband to every citizen and business in Ireland.

Our ambition is clear. It is to achieve 100% coverage of high speed broadband across Ireland.

It is important to be clear also, that the objective of 100% coverage of high speed broadband will be achieved through a combination of:

  • accelerated investment by commercial telecoms operators; and
  • a State intervention for those parts of the country where there is no certainty that commercial operators will provide a service.

The Government's National Broadband Plan has been very successful in encouraging increased levels of investment by commercial operators. This in turn means that more people will have access to high speed broadband at an early date and also reduces the number of premises to be included in the State intervention.

Ireland would not be experiencing the current level of investment by commercial operators, were it not for the strong commitment by this Government to the National Broadband Plan. As a direct result of the Government’s commitment to deliver the National Broadband Plan we are witnessing a step change in the numbers of homes and businesses that are getting access to high speed broadband.

The figures speak for themselves. In 2016 only 52% of premises in Ireland had access to high speed broadband.

Today that has increased to 61% and by the end of next year over 77% of premises in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband. With commercial investment and the Government NBP that will rise to more than 90% of premises by the end of 2020.

If you are looking for evidence that the commercial sector is taking the Government’s commitment to the National Broadband Plan seriously, you do not have to look beyond the hundreds of millions in hard cash that industry continues to invest, with an average of €1.6 million being spent each day.

I will turn now to the procurement process being managed by my Department to select a bidder, or bidders, to build out a high speed broadband network to those areas where commercial operators will not provide a service.

The procurement process is making good progress in parallel with the rollout by commercial operators. There is no question of the Government waiting for any commercial investment to conclude before shovels are put in the ground on the NBP State intervention. I have stated this on several occasions so I do not understand the inaccuracies that some media are currently reporting on the timelines.

In April of this year the map for the procurement process was finalised and it now includes 542,000 premises.

Last month bidders were invited to submit their Detailed Solutions by September. The Detailed Solutions stage of the procurement process is the final stage before moving to Final Tenders.

In conclusion I can assure this House that every day more people in every county in Ireland are benefitting from access to high speed broadband, as a direct result of the Government’s National Broadband Plan.

I will not relent until every home and every business in Ireland has this service.

Ends

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