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National Broadband Plan Minister Rabbitte launches stakeholder consultation on the State intervention to bring high speed broadband to all parts of Ireland

broadband router with ethernet cables
Dublin, 25th June 2014

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.

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