Latest: Broadband tender process has 'absolutely failed'

Latest: Broadband tender process has 'absolutely failed'

Update 10.30am: Fianna Fáil’s Communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley says the tender process for the National Broadband Plan has "absolutely failed".

He is calling for more engagement with the other bidders who pulled out earlier in the broadband plan tender process.

"It now clearly points out that the tender process that the State put in place to identify a bidder that would provide a service and value for money for the State has absolutely failed,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

It failed around 18 months ago, when two of the main competitors pulled out of the race. It was clear at that stage that there was only going to be one outcome.

His comments were in response to reports that the Government is due to approve the plan - despite the cost going significantly over budget to €3bn.

The plan aims to bring high-speed Internet to more than 500,000 homes and businesses awaiting access to broadband across the country.

The last remaining bidder is a consortium led by US businessman David McCourt.

"I think it was unwise for the past 18 months to continue with the process without engaging with the two major players that pulled out.

"To the best of my knowledge there has been no serious engagement with either the ESB, Vodafone or Eir - I think that was a fundamental mistake on behalf of the Government and its agents.

"I still don't think it's too late for a detailed engagement with the ESB in particular."

The original cost of the broadband plan was projected to be half a billion euro.

Earlier: €3bn broadband plan set to be approved

Latest: Broadband tender process has 'absolutely failed'

Update 7.58am: The National Broadband Plan is set to be approved by the government at a cost of €3bn.

The cost of the plan to connect half a million rural homes and businesses is now almost five times the initial estimate.

According to The Irish Times, however, Cabinet is likely to be asked to sign off on the plan next week.

The National Broadband Plan which has been in development since 2012 aims to bring high-speed connectivity to half a million homes around the country.

It was initially priced at €500m but earlier this month the Taoiseach confirmed the cost has escalated to €3bn.

The government now looks set to approve a bid led by the last remaining bidder in the process, businessman David McCourt.

Despite the significant cost to the taxpayer the State will not own the network once it is built.

The Irish Times reports rural based ministers will be expected to take a lead role in convincing the public that the plan represents value for money.

Digital Desk

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