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Independent.ie

Sunday 11 December 2016

Plan aims for 100pc coverage by 2020

Published 03/02/2016 | 02:30

Minister Alex White
Minister Alex White

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources launched its updated National Broadband Plan (NBP) intervention strategy three days before Christmas heralding it as "a defining moment" for the procurement process for the delivery of broadband infrastructure.

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On the same day, it officially launched its procurement process.

Minister Alex White said it was designed to be "a lasting solution that compliments existing commercial investment" that "benefits all citizens in whatever part of the country they live or work".

He said the Government was now committing to "definitively tackling Ireland's broadband challenge" in productive cooperation with industry.

"Quite simply, this is the most ambitious investment in broadband yet by Government," he said.

Mr White added the Government's Capital Plan in September included an allocation of €275m for the first five years of the NBP network rollout.

'Accelerated'

He said he expected further State funding throughout the 25-year lifetime of the contract, compliment by "accelerated" commercial investment, alleviating somewhat the burden on the taxpayer.

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He said by the end of this year, 70pc or 1.6 million premises would have access to high-speed broadband.

But he promised the intervention strategy would focus on ensuring the remaining 30pc would have high-speed access in areas where it was uneconomic for the commercial sector to invest.

"Through this combined commercial investment and State intervention, 85pc of addresses will have access to high-speed services by 2018, and our ambition is to achieve 100pc coverage by the end of 2020," he added.

The ownership model has been narrowed down to two options; commercial stimulus - where the private sector would build and operate the network, and full concession - also involving the private sector but where the asset reverts back to the State after completion of the 25-year contract.

Since then, a clarification event for bidders took place on January 19.

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