The National Broadband Plan promised to deliver subsidised modern Internet to 750,000 non-urban homes and businesses by 2020. A spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources has confirmed, however, that the plan has been delayed because of issues surrounding the negotiations with bidders for the process.
This means the plan may not be completed until at least 2022, a decade after the initial launch and two years later than promised.
The procurement process launched towards the end of last year and the Department of Communications, led by outgoing Minister Alex White, pledged to conclude the process by the middle of this year. It was said that construction would begin soon after. The Department now says the awarding of the contract to the winning bidder or bidders will not take place until 2017.
The National Broadband Plan will award contracts commercial operators for the construction of a network, with a minimum download speed of 30Mbps. This network will reach 757,000 premises and the service 1.8 million people private companies are unlikely to reach due to the costs involved.
10 companies had expressed an interest in discussing the National Broadband Plan rollout with the government. Eir and Siro are considered to be front runners to contend for the state contract.
A spokesperson for eir issued the following statement:
"eir notes the confirmation today by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources that it will not now be in a position to commence negotiations with short listed bidders as planned this year or to award the NBP contract to the winning bidder or bidders until 2017, several months later than originally planned.
eir confirms that it will continue to rollout high speed broadband at pace. Today, 1.4 million homes and businesses (60% of premises) across Ireland, can access high speed broadband.
This will rise to 1.6 million, or 70% of the country by June of this year, and will reach 1.9 million premises (80% of all homes and businesses) as soon as possible thereafter.
We have commenced the rollout of high speed broadband to the additional 300,000 homes and businesses in rural Ireland. We aim to complete the first 100,000 by the end of this year.
We will continue to assist the Government to ensure that the National Broadband Plan is implemented so that every home and business across Ireland can access high speed broadband as quickly as possible."