1.1 million people to benefit from €3 billion National Broadband Plan approved by Government 2 weeks ago

1.1 million people to benefit from €3 billion National Broadband Plan approved by Government

The project is expected to cost €3 billion.

The Government has approved the appointment of a preferred bidder for the National Broadband plan, described as "the biggest investment in rural Ireland since electrification".

The Government says the "transformational" scheme will bring high-speed broadband to 1.1m people and 540,000 homes, business and farms.

It will cost €3 billion, including VAT, with a €545 million contingency fund to cover the "worst case" scenario, to cover design, build, development and operation for over 35 years.

As a result, over half a million premises in a State Intervention Area – areas where high-speed broadband was previously not provided by broadband operators – will be provided with access to a future-proofed, high-speed broadband network.

An interactive map of areas with high-speed broadband in Ireland can be viewed here.

A Government initiative to deliver high-speed broadband services to all premises in Ireland, the National Broadband Plan was initially launched in 2012 by then Minister for Communications Pat Rabitte but has encountered a series of problems since.

Projected costs for the National Broadband Plan have spiralled from an initial €500 million to the €3 billion confirmed by the Government on Tuesday, while after the five bidders in the original tendering process were reduced to three preferred bidders, it was eventually whittled down to one sole bidder, Granahan McCourt Capital.

In October of last year, then Minister for Communications Denis Naughten resigned after he was embroiled in a scandal over his meetings with Irish businessman David McCourt, founder and CEO of Granahan McCourt Capital, ahead of the consortium’s bid for the broadband contract.

Having acknowledged the spiralling costs of the project, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“In 10 years’ time people won’t ask about the price, they’ll wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.”

More information on the National Broadband plan can be found here.

Main image via Twitter/MerrionStreet.ie