Broadband plan update: Eir proposal deemed ‘not feasible’

The proposal made by Eir as an alternative to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) has been deemed to be “not feasible” by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The Government was updated today, Wednesday, July 17, on progress made towards finalising the €2.97 billion contract for the NBP by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton.

Eir proposal

Following on from Eir’s appearance before the joint Oireachtas committee on June 28, the department – in consultation with its advisors and with ComReg – has concluded that the high-level proposal put forward by the company is not a feasible alternative and has no impact on the decision to appoint a preferred bidder to the plan.

Eir was one of the final bidders to the NBP and, under these terms, made a draft bid of €2.75 billion, excluding VAT, before making the decision to withdraw from the process, according to the department.

The evidence presented by Eir both in the committee and in its subsequent letter to the department “does not meet the tender’s objectives and contains material which has already been raised and dismissed during Eir’s participation in the procurement process”, the department added.

Government response

In a response sent to Eir today, it was outlined that the provision of a state subsidy to any company without competition is not legal under procurement and state aid rules, nor would it meet the key objectives of the NBP.

Government today noted this assessment.

Minister Bruton said: “Work is progressing on finalising the contract for the NBP.

“It is crucial that we move to sign the contract so that the one million people who today are without access are not left behind.

Digital technology is transforming how we live, learn and work. We must make sure the people of rural Ireland have the same opportunities as those in our towns and cities.

Following confirmation of state aid approval by the European Commission and completion of contract closing requirements, the preferred bidder will be awarded the contract for the NBP.

It is expected that the NBP contract will be signed later this year when all of the legal and financial documentation are finalised with roll out commencing shortly thereafter.

NBP

The NBP will ensure that every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband, no matter where they are located, according to the department.

As a result of the plan, the 1.1 million people living and working in 540,000 premises across the country – including 100,000 businesses and farms, and over 600 schools – who currently cannot access broadband, will have access to a high-speed broadband service.

Those 1.1 million people predominantly living in rural areas will have the same opportunities as urban Ireland and will be able to avail of the range of new opportunities that high-speed broadband has and will deliver, the department concluded.

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