Eir claim it could have delivered National Broadband Plan for under €1bn

Eir claim it could have delivered National Broadband Plan for under €1bn

The former state telephone company, Eir, will tomorrow claim it could have delivered the Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) for under €1bn, one-third of its estimated final cost.

The Government has hit back this evening saying that a draft tender bid from eir in late 2017 came in at a multiple of €1bn.

Eir officials will appear before an Oireachtas committee tomorrow examining the state of the NBP.

Eir pulled out of the bidding process in 2018, insisting the risks had become "too great for its continued participation".

The Oireachtas Communications Committee will hear that after leaving the bidding process, Eir discussed with Government "alternative ways" of delivering the plan.

"It is clear to us that we can build rural fibre infrastructure at a lower cost than is currently envisaged in the plans as outlined at the same levels of quality and service as the 300k," the company's opening statement to the committee will say.

In May, Communications Minister Richard Bruton won Government approval to award preferred bidder status for the delivery of the NPB to a consortium led by US businessman David McCourt.

Revelations about undisclosed meetings between Mr McCourt and former Communications Minister Denis Naughten led to his resignation from Government in acrimonious circumstances.

The value of the contract is capped at just under €3bn and it aims to provide high-speed broadband to more than 540,000 homes and businesses in rural areas.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications said that Eir's September 2017 draft bid came in at many multiples of €1bn.

"There were two draft bids received in September 2017 at an advanced stage in the NBP procurement process - one from Eir and one from National Broadband Ireland (who were appointed preferred bidder). Both bids were broadly similar in terms of the level of State subsidy sought, with Eir's bid coming in as multiples of €1bn," a spokesperson said.

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