Belfast Telegraph

National Broadband Plan could cost three billion euro

The Taoiseach said more time was needed to consider the decision.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the cost of the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan could be three billion euro (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the cost of the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan could be three billion euro (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

The roll-out of the National Broadband Plan would cost in the region of three billion euro, the Taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar said the Government needed to spend “a little bit more time” before it could make a decision on whether to award a contract for the multi-million euro project.

Only one bidder remains in the process for the contract to deliver high-speed broadband to more than 540,000 homes across the country.

“The Government needs to spend a little bit more time before we can bring a decision to cabinet on this,” Mr Varadkar told the Dail on Tuesday.

He said the cost of the project “could be in the region of three billion euro, albeit spread over 25 years”.

The Taoiseach had previously indicated a decision would be made on the contract before Easter.

“We want to do this, we want to do it right and before we bring a decision to Cabinet we want to make sure there is no better alternative,” he said.

It is almost four years since the tender process began.

The cost of the project was originally estimated at between 355 million and 512 million euro, but earlier this year Mr Varadkar said the cost may end up being “many multiples” of what was budgeted.

In the Dail on Tuesday the Taoiseach maintained that the original cost estimate, of 500 million euro, was for a “very different project”, one designed to deliver fibre to 11,000 villages but not rural areas.

“It’s important to point out on every occasion that it’s a different project,” he said.

“Bringing fibre to villages of Ireland is not the same as bringing fibre to 540,000 homes farms, businesses in rural area.

“It is quite a different project.”

On Monday Communications Minister Richard Bruton confirmed that the matter would not be brought before Cabinet prior to the Easter break.

Mr Bruton said it was widely acknowledged that it was not a cheap investment and that the Government now had to determine whether it was an investment they were willing to make.

PA

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