Communications Minister claims Ireland is 'global leader' for rolling out broadband

Eir yesterday withdrew from the National Broadband Plan bidding process, citing the "very complex" process

Communications Minister claims Ireland is 'global leader' for rolling out broadband

Denis Naughten. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Communications Minister has claimed we are the 'global leaders' when it comes to rolling out broadband.

Denis Naughten has moved to defend the National Broadband Plan, saying no other country in the world is trying to bring high-speed broadband to every single home and premises.

His comments follow the news that Eir - one of the two remaining bidders for the broadband contract - pulled out of the bidding contest yesterday, claiming that the process was too complicated.

It leaves just one remaining bidder - the enet-SSE consortium.

However, Minister Naughten says Eir has taken a commercial decision, and the Government's broadband plans will go ahead.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said: "I'm determined that this contract will be signed as quickly as possible, and that work will start as quickly as possible."

On the subject of the National Broadband Plan generally, he observed: "We are the global leaders in what we're doing. No other country in the world is doing what we're attempting to do.

"We have a team of 80 experts involved in this - some of the most capable people anywhere in Europe working on this project, with us, in the Department, on a day-to-day basis."

He added that there are plans for 77% of the country to have access to high-speed broadband by the end of the year.

The head of Eir, meanwhile, has denied there's a hidden reason for withdrawing its bid for the national broadband contract.

CEO Richard Moat's rejecting claims that Eir's new French owner doesn't want to take on such a difficult task.

He argued: "The process has become very complex; the contract which underpins it has become increasingly onerous.

"When you combine those factors with factors that are external to the process [...] we couldn't make a positive business case. That's the reason why we chose to pull out."