Broadband plan cheapest and most effective, Bruton insists

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton has said that the National Broadband Plan is the cheapest and most effective option for the provision of broadband.

Mr Bruton is due to appear before the Oireachtas committee on communications later today, to discuss the broadband plan, where it is expected Opposition politicians will press him on the subject of the investment by preferred bidder Granahan McCourt.

All the options were evaluated and the Granahan McCourt consortium bid was considered the most effective, Mr Bruton told RTE radio’s News at One.

He confirmed that the amount that will be provided by Granahan McCourt will initially be €220million in equity and capital, and that they will “carry all the risk” for any additional costs. Overall the consortium will provide €2.4billion over 25 years, he said.

Mr Bruton confirmed that Granahan McCourt is to be asked whether the Government can publish details of the private firm’s investment in the project. He explained that any tendering process involves confidentiality.

Some elements that had been redacted in documents published last week will now be available, he said, but the operation’s projections will remain confidential.

The Government is taking this position because it believes this is the cheapest and most effective way to bring broadband services to the 1.1 million people in rural Ireland who do not have access at present, he added.

He defended the position taken that the service will belong to the consortium at the end of the 25 years of the project. If the Government had taken the option to take ownership it would then have responsibility for upkeep and updating of the service, he said.

This position will ensure the service is future proofed and that it is constantly updated.

They cannot change whatever they like. This will be fully full regulated.

Mr Bruton said that while there is no obligation to sign the contract with the preferred bidder, “this is the safest option. We’re not going to wait and take a chance that something else will turn up. We have examined each of the other options.”

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