Thursday, 12 March 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
44. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to provide a broadband service outside the national broadband scheme areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10361/09]
67. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the claims by a group (details supplied) that up to 12,000 homes and businesses cannot access broadband of any kind but are not covered by the national broadband scheme; the provision he will make for these cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10514/09]
In designing the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), which was approved by the EU Commission, the Department needed to strike a balance between reaching as many unserved areas as possible and minimising the impact of the scheme on businesses already providing broadband services in rural areas, thereby minimising market distortion in accordance with EU State Aid rules.
The NBS will be rolled out an electoral division (ED) basis and will address EDs that are without adequate broadband services. Where an ED is completely unserved or partially covered, it will be included in the NBS. EU State Aid and competition rules govern how States can intervene in areas that are already substantially served by broadband. While recognising that some premises within substantially served areas may have difficulties for a variety of reasons in receiving a broadband service, the NBS cannot cater for such limited instances as to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion. Accordingly, EDs that are substantially covered by an existing broadband service provider are deemed to be served and have had to be excluded from the NBS. It is hoped that over time, as competition increases, service providers will be attracted to offer service to unserved premises in these areas.
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