Wednesday 18 September 2019

Bruton: €3bn NBP deal to be signed in weeks

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton
Minister for Communications Richard Bruton
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A contract for up to €3bn of taxpayer funding for the National Broadband Plan will be signed with Granahan McCourt's National Broadband Ireland in September, the Minister for Communications has indicated.

"It looks like we'll sign the contract in September," said Richard Bruton at a political canvas in his area this week.

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"Eir were playing games with it, but it looks to be on course."

Earlier this month, the Department of Communications dismissed an alternative plan floated by Eir, which the company claimed could have saved the State more than €1bn.

A Government source said that the contract was more likely to be signed in late September than the beginning of the month.

The move comes after National Broadband Ireland responded to a series of questions posed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications investigating the broadband plan.

In the document, the company makes a series of statements to further its contention that it has "significant national and international expertise" in delivering broadband networks.

The company was responding to a series of queries from the committee, including criticism from Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley that the consortium lacks sufficient experience to take on a project of the scale of the National Broadband Plan.

In its answers to the Committee, NBI claims that its "leadership team" has overseen the rollout or management of 24 "national telecom networks in Ireland, Europe, the US and central America", along with "12,000km of fibre delivered across 56 projects", and "€40bn in funding, financing and management of infrastructure assets".

NBI's bidder members include KN Group, Kelly Group and Denis O'Brien's Actavo.

Nokia is the equipment provider and 4Site is NBI's network design partner.

The document also claims that there have been "no cost over-runs" to date and that "wireless will be a useful solution in around 2pc of the hardest-to-reach homes".

It says that a minority of the NBP poles and ducts will be newly built.

"The vast majority of the fibre will run through, over, or on infrastructure owned by other companies, such as Eir, ESB and Enet," it says.

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