Tuesday 29th September 2015
Minister for Communications Alex White today (Tuesday) welcomed the capital investment plan allocation of €275 million for the National Broadband Plan. He said the funding would provide the initial stimulus required to deliver high speed broadband access to every home, school and business by 2020.
Minister White said the €275 million did not represent the full cost of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) which would likely be spread over 20 years, well beyond the period of the capital investment plan published today. The Government is on target to go to tender on the state intervention element of the NBP towards the end of 2015, and Minister White said he would not outline the total level of Government funding envisaged until the tender process was complete.
Minister White said: "The capital plan funding announced today demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to this important project, which aims to conclusively deal with Ireland's connectivity challenges and put us at the top of the international league for quality high-speed broadband. The €275 million will provide the initial stimulus for the early years of the state intervention under the National Broadband Plan.
"This is an indication of the scale of the investment envisaged, but it is not the full cost. The full 20-year cost of the programme will emerge out of the tendering process, which will commence as planned at the end of this year. In the meantime I will not speculate about the final level of Government funding because, if I did, it could influence the tender process and drive the cost to the taxpayer up rather than down."
It is expected that the funds allocated today will be used to draw down EU funding of €75 million, which has already been agreed. The Department of Communications is also at an advanced stage of exploring the scope for further European funding through the European Investment Bank and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
Minister White said the NBP was on course to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland had access to high-speed broadband by 2020, with 85% of premises covered by 2018. He said he would be able to proceed to formal procurement by the end of 2015, because all the milestones set for the delivery of the project had been met:
- A draft Intervention Strategy was published for public consultation in July 2015, along with seven expert reports. Some 36 submissions were subsequently received from industry, local authorities, stakeholder groups and individuals
- The Department of Communications has submitted its State Aid pre-notification to the European Commission in July 2015, as is required under EU rules
- The Department is currently updating its high-speed broadband map to take account of new industry investment proposals, with a view to publishing an updated map later this year. The updated map will determine the final scope of the required state intervention to deliver high-speed broadband access to areas that will not be served by commercial providers.