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BT Ireland ready to bid for €500m State rural broadband project

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Eircom is also gearing up to pitch "aggressively" for State contracts to supply rural households with fibre broadband

Eircom is also gearing up to pitch "aggressively" for State contracts to supply rural households with fibre broadband

Eircom is also gearing up to pitch "aggressively" for State contracts to supply rural households with fibre broadband

BT Ireland intends to bid for large government contracts for the roll-out of rural broadband throughout Ireland.

It will be a change of strategy for the telecoms group, which currently only provides connectivity to businesses - and not consumers.

This is unlike its Northern Irish operation, which directly connects homes in the same way Eircom and UPC do in the south.

The Government is expected to invite bids for the contracts by the end of this year, with construction expected to start in 2016.

As part of the deal, the State will provide funding for private telecoms companies to bring fibre broadband to rural parts of the country.

A budget of up to €500m has been allocated.

It is not yet clear what percentage of the costs will be carried by Government, or whether the State will own any of the infrastructure. Eircom and a new joint venture backed by ESB and Vodafone will also bid for the contract, it is understood.

Eircom is gearing up to pitch "aggressively" for State contracts to supply rural households with fibre broadband, its head of consumer division Jon Florsheim said.

By subsidising private companies who would otherwise find the task too expensive to be worth their while, the Government aims to cover every rural home and business in the country with high-speed broadband of at least 30 megabits per second by 2020.

Commercial operators say that they cannot make money unsupported from offering this kind of high speed broadband to remote townlands and rural ribbon developments.

The Government has already published a map showing in detail every townland, village and rural area where the new State-subsidised broadband will apply.

Sunday Indo Business