Budget 2017 was received positively, for the most part. In a post-budget press conference, however, Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, spoke about the National Broadband Plan and signalled further delays to the commencement of the process.
An extra €5 million was allocated to finalise the tender process in 2017. This brings the total allocation for the National Broadband Plan in 2017 to €15 million. It was also announced that the bidders, along with the Department, decided upon Fibre-to-the-home as the predominant technology solution. This means that Irish homes will receive speeds of 1Gbps. The minimum download speed will remain at 30mbps.
All in all, this reads as very good news for Ireland.
The issue, however, is with the procurement process; which is underway. Minister Naughten commented that it's "complex and risky". He stated that his department would not rush this aspect of the National Broadband Plan. He stated that some of the bidders are looking for extra time with this step.
@StaffordJimmy that's why I'm not making promises that I cannot stand over
— Denis Naughten (@DenisNaughten) October 12, 2016
This could mean that work on the National Broadband Plan may not begin until 2018. This sort of delay to the beginning of the work could lead to a completion date of 2023. This is much later than the initial deadline for completion of 2020.
Eir has released a statement following this news:
“We are deploying the largest telecommunications infrastructure programme in the country. Currently, 1.6 million homes and business across Ireland can access high speed fibre broadband as a result of our rollout programme.
Having rolled out high-speed fibre broadband to cities, towns and villages our priority now is to bring high-speed fibre broadband to homes, businesses and farming communities across rural Ireland.
We are focussed on delivering access to an additional 300,000 homes and businesses using a Fibre to the Home solution (FTTH). We have committed to completing this programme by the end of 2018, well ahead of our previously stated target date.
We are constrained from commenting specifically about the NBP process. FTTH has always been our preferred solution for rural Ireland.
No one is doing more to drive the availability of high-speed broadband across Ireland and specifically in rural Ireland."