The Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD has launched the Report of the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce. The report identifies areas where Government and industry can work together and highlights 42 recommendations under five headings including: Industry investment plans and likely gaps; stimulation of demand for broadband services; Planning reforms to accelerate build out of essential telecoms infrastructure; spectrum policy; and the role of state infrastructure and services.

The aim of the taskforce was to create a forum at which key industry stakeholders could highlight the legislative, policy and regulatory levers that could facilitate greater investment in high speed broadband services across Ireland. It was also designed to identify where gaps in commercial service provision are likely to occur between now and 2020. Membership of the taskforce included the CEOs of the six main electronic communications network operators in Ireland: BT, eircom, Hutchison 3G Ireland (3), Telefonica O2, UPC and Vodafone along with the CEOs of four other operators. It was chaired by Minister Rabitte and supported by Minster of Satte Fergus O’Dowd.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Minister Rabbitte said that by 2015 “more than 50 percent of the will have access to very fast broadband” yet “we face a major challenge because 15-30 percent of the population will continue to have basic broadband service only, as the case for commercial investment in rural areas is very challenging”. He added: “Our challenge is threefold: firstly, make it easier for the private sector to invest in rollout, secondly encourage citizens and businesses to go online and thirdly address infrastructure deficits”.

A four week consultation period with users and other stakeholders will run through May. Following this, the Minister will publish a National Broadband Plan for Ireland setting out the actions that Government will take to ensure the delivery of high quality broadband to all parts of Ireland.