The National Broadband Plan, which aims to bring high-speed internet to more than half a million homes, farms and businesses across rural Ireland, is expected to be considered by the Government this morning, Tuesday, May 7.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed to the Dáil that the project could cost as much as €3 billion over 25 years.

However, reservations have been voiced to the project’s tendering process, both by members of the opposition and officials in the Department of Public Expenditure, according to RTÉ.

Speaking on Tuesday, April 16, the Taoiseach said: “Without Government intervention, approximately 540,000 homes, farms and businesses will not have access to high-speed broadband. That is why Government intervention is required.

It is not a small number of people and it is not a small number of homes. It is 540,000 homes, farms and businesses and over one million people and it will require the laying of 100,000km of fibre.

“It is a huge project when looked at in that way.

“The cost, including VAT, contingencies and so on could be in the region of €3 billion, albeit spread over 25 years.

“It is a huge project of huge scale,” he told the Dáil.

The tendering process, however, with only one bidder left – the Granahan McCourt Capital consortium – has been questioned by opposition parties.

Last month Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: “The Government is proposing that the consortium concerned will get €3 billion of taxpayers’ money to build and to manage, and to own the entire network at the very end, making profits along the way.”