Government gives green light to 3bn euro National Broadband Plan
The rollout of high-speed broadband to 540,000 homes and business across the country will begin at the end of the year.
The Government has given the green light to the National Broadband Plan at a cost of 3 billion euro.
A consortium led by Granahan McCourt was announced as the preferred bidder after the project was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday.
Granahan McCourt was the only remaining bidder for the contract to deliver high-speed broadband to more than 540,000 homes and businesses.
The scheme will bring high-speed broadband to 1.1 million people across the country.
Every home, farm, school & business in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan approved by Govt today. It will ensure that those in rural areas have the same digital opportunities as those in urban areas. #NBP #broadband pic.twitter.com/UFgK2VwccE— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) May 7, 2019
Speaking at the announcement in Dublin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Broadband will be the biggest investment in rural Ireland ever and perhaps the most significant one since rural electrification.
“People will be able to set up and run a business anywhere in the country and access international markets from most rural and island locations.
“We’re only really beginning to see how the world is being transformed by digital technologies and we cannot allow any part of our country to be left behind.”
Mr Varadkar said the scheme would ensure that every home, school, farm and business across the country has access to high-speed broadband.
“In doing so we’ll be one of the first countries in the world to achieve this,” he said.
The rollout of the plan will begin at the end of the year. It is expected to take seven years to complete.
The Taoiseach said the project was about connecting Ireland to the rest of the world.
“When it comes to connecting our people to the world we must pay the price of progress now or we risk staying trapped in the past forever,” Mr Varadkar said.
“It’s about making sure this time rural Ireland isn’t left behind. We have a digital divide between rural and urban Ireland and that’s growing. By going ahead with the National Broadband Plan we can end that divide – if we don’t go ahead we’ll never end it.”
Minister Richard Bruton— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) May 7, 2019
“This investment will have a transformative effect on rural Ireland, future-proofing communities for generations. Digital technology is revolutionising how we live, learn and work and we want to make sure rural Ireland is not left behind.” #Ireland2040 pic.twitter.com/IA0cvYdcz1
Communications Minister Richard Bruton said the investment would have a “transformative effect” on rural Ireland, future-proofing communities for generations.
“Digital technology is revolutionising how we live, learn and work and we want to make sure rural Ireland is not left behind,” he said.
He described the Government’s decision to sign off on the plan as momentous.
“It shows the determination of Government to ensure that we do have an inclusive Ireland, that rural Ireland is as important as urban Ireland, and that we can sustain and support regional development by having a strong broadband network,” Mr Bruton said.
The National Broadband Plan was first announced in 2012 by then communications minister Pat Rabbitte.
Since then it has been mired by delays and setbacks.
At the outset there were five bidders. Three were selected as preferred bidders but two pulled out, leaving one consortium in the running.
Last October, former communications minister Denis Naughten stepped down amid controversy over the rural broadband plan after it came to light that he held previously undisclosed meetings with the head of the last remaining bidder.
An independent review was commissioned by the Taoiseach following concerns about the procurement process, but it found it had not been influenced by Mr Naughten or businessman David McCourt, who is part of Granahan McCourt.
The cost of the project was originally estimated at between 355 million and 512 million euro, but last month Mr Varadkar confirmed the cost would end up being closer to 3 billion euro.
He maintained that the original cost estimate of 500 million euro was for a very different project.