Written Answers - Telecommunications Services.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 684 No. 7

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  14.  Deputy David Stanton  Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton   asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan   when the final policy paper on next generation broadband will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24031/09]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  In July 2008 I published a draft paper on Next Generation Broadband, which considered the challenges for the Government in positioning Ireland as a leading country in the provision of broadband infrastructure and in the development of new digital applications.

There has been an extensive consultation process following the publication on the draft paper. This involved written submissions on the paper, a one-day Forum held on the 30th September 2008 and an online consultation forum. The consultation process yielded a wide range of submissions from the industry, policy makers and broadband users. I am pleased to say that the thrust of the proposals in the draft paper was widely supported.

The final paper will be published within days and will provide a strong policy framework for the roll out of Next Generation Networks (NGN) as well as outlining specific Government initiatives. The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) are also to publish a paper very shortly on the regulatory framework for NGNs. Therefore a robust framework will be in place for prospective investors.

I must stress that progress is being made on a number of the specific actions set out in the draft paper. This includes actions such as a one-stop-shop for State infrastructure to facilitate the rollout of fibre to the regions; mandating new fibre to new build where practicable; high speed connectivity to schools and innovative use of frequency spectrum.

In addition, on foot of the principle that Government will have a direct investment role to play in bridging digital divides, where the market cannot provide solutions, direct Government intervention in the communications sector have continued apace. These include the agreement and initial roll-out of the National Broadband Scheme, improvement in International Connectivity through Project Kelvin and the substantial completion of the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs).

As I already stated ComReg will very shortly publish a paper that will deal with the regulatory framework to support rollout of NGN. In this contextit is recognised that the current system needs to be adapted to support investment. Towards this end, there is a role for collaborative models of engagement in rolling out high speed broadband networks, providing that [321]existing regulatory requirements such as open access and non-discrimination are respected and that the overall competitive dynamic remains.

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