Dublin, 25th June
Pat Rabbitte, T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
today launched a major stakeholder consultation on the implementation of the
State’s intervention under the National Broadband Plan.
The consultation is another milestone in the process to bring high speed
broadband to rural Ireland. In April, the Minister announced Government’s
agreement to a more ambitious Plan that seeks to ensure a future-proofed high
speed broadband infrastructure is built across Ireland. “As I have said before,
we need to build a state-of-the art infrastructure that meets the needs of an
increasingly data-hungry society” Minister Rabbitte said.
Today’s consultation is directed primarily at telecommunication industry
players. It addresses inter alia the standards and technical definitions for
“Next Generation Access” which the State might demand from any State funded
network or service.
The information provided in this consultation will feed directly into the
comprehensive mapping exercise which has been has been in train for the past
year and is now at an advanced stage. This involves the identification and
mapping of all commercial next generation broadband services that are being
provided in Ireland both now and over the coming years. In so doing it aims to
identify the areas where Next Generation services are not planned to be provided
by commercial operators and therefore the extent of the intervention required by
the State. The mapping exercise is a pre-requisite for EU State Aid approval of
the Government’s intervention plans.
The Minister noted that the consultation document also availed of the
opportunity for respondents to consider wider policy issues including
interpretation of the current State Aid guidelines as well as ownership,
governance and the economic rationale for the State’s intervention. “Early
feedback from stakeholders on these important issues will assist the Department
in developing the final end-to-end strategy for the Government’s intervention”
Minister Rabbitte said.
The Minister noted that the mapping exercise is scheduled for completion in
the autumn, after which comprehensive maps will be published and operators will
have an opportunity to comment. Thereafter the Minister will consult on the
proposed strategy before proceeding to procurement.