Deputy Hildegarde Naughton has rubbished media reports on the length of delays to the National Broadband Plan, suggesting the setback will be months as opposed to years.
Speaking after a meeting with departmental officials, Deputy Naughton commented, “Contrary to some media reports, the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan has been delayed by a matter of months, not years, as reported. The only delay here is due to the amount of tenders received; five consortia involving some 30 companies. The breath and complexity of the tenders received means that rather than awarding the contract at the end of this year, as envisaged, it will instead be awarded in mid 2017. That is a delay of a matter of months, not years.”
Although Deputy Naughton admitted the delay was regrettable, the Fine Gael TD believes that it is necessary in order to get the correct tender.
“We should remember that the contract awarded will last for some 25 years and involve providing high speed, future proofed, broadband to every home in the country,” said the Deputy. The Deputy expects that high speed broadband will be delivered to 85 per cent of Ireland’s premises within two years of the contract award and five years to reach 100 per cent coverage.
“Once the contract is signed, the roll out work will begin immediately. Service improvements will be quickly apparent in these rural areas. This 25 year contract aims to deliver a 21st century network that can meet the demands of this generation and the next,” said Deputy Naughton.
The Deputy added that Fine Gael in government, last year, had set aside funding in the national capital plan to proceed with the National Broadband Plan and that it would deliver high speed broadband to ‘non commercial’ areas across Ireland; these are communities where existing commercial operators are not investing in new broadband. According to the Deputy, this intervention area includes: more than 750,000 individual premises; 100,000km of road network; and 96 per cent of Ireland’s landmass.