€3bn National Broadband Plan will provide broadband to over 540,000 homes

€3bn National Broadband Plan will provide broadband to over 540,000 homes

The Government has agreed a €3bn plan to roll out high-speed broadband to over 540,000 homes and premises in rural Ireland over the next seven years.

Amid concerns about value for money and claims of electioneering, Cabinet members held a lengthy meeting over the project and agreed to accept a tender today.

The plan will be overseen by a consortium led by Irish American billionaire businessman David McCourt and controlled by a new company called National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

While the project could take up to seven years, it will ultimately benefit up to 1.1 million people in homes, businesses and premises.

Under the deal terms, NBI must make a start connecting homes in the first two years. Digging and work on the ground will not get underway until the Autumn, after all contracts are signed.

The Government says the deal will cost €2.1bn if all goes to plan. Another €500m will go towards a buffer or contingency fund for any overruns. A further €300m plus will pay for the VAT.

Any excess profits made by the NBI can be clawed back by the Government and strict penalties will apply if connections take longer than minimum periods agreed.

A flat rate connection fee for households of €100 will be charged while different providers will offer services such as TV or telephone along with the connections, including companies such as Sky.

NBI is also paying an estimated €1bn to Eir to use existing infrastructure such as poles for connections, This forms part of the €3bn in costs.

Opposition leaders are angry that the State is set to pay such a price for the project and that the infrastructure will not be owned by the department. Furthermore, there have been calls for the ESB's existing infrastructure to be used and for another tendering process potentially to be explored.

Department of Expenditure officials have also warned ministers that the project does not represent value for money in the long term.

The Government is expected today to release a number of reports which will outline alternative options and why these are more expensive, will take longer and could drag any new deal into the courts.

More on this topic

Virgin Media rules out expanding broadband rollout to more areas of east CorkVirgin Media rules out expanding broadband rollout to more areas of east Cork

Minister to consider findings of scathing broadband reportMinister to consider findings of scathing broadband report

Northern Ireland in the running for rural 5G trialsNorthern Ireland in the running for rural 5G trials

FF will not 'bring down the Government' over broadband planFF will not 'bring down the Government' over broadband plan


More in this Section

Mining experts to assess the risk of West Cork sinkholeMining experts to assess the risk of West Cork sinkhole

Residents in Leitrim continue round-the-clock protest against centre for asylum seekersResidents in Leitrim continue round-the-clock protest against centre for asylum seekers

Developer offers to lease almost 500 apartments for social homes in CoolockDeveloper offers to lease almost 500 apartments for social homes in Coolock

Revised plans for controversial Bus Connects plan to be unveiledRevised plans for controversial Bus Connects plan to be unveiled


Lifestyle

We catch up with Bushmills’ master distiller, who tells Sam Wylie-Harris more about this liquid gold.Irish whiskey masterclass: 11 things you need to know

Temples, beaches, and several nations with new names.From Bhutan to Costa Rica, Lonely Planet reveals its top countries to visit in 2020

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s unsure how to manage her mother’s dying wishes.Ask a counsellor: ‘Is it appropriate to notify my mother’s friends of her death by email?’

‘The Big Yin’ talks to Luke Rix-Standing about living with Parkinson’s, the power of forgiveness, and why he will never, ever stop swearing.Billy Connolly: ‘You don’t wake up famous, you wake up scratching yourself like everybody else’

More From The Irish Examiner