Extra €200m will be needed to fund National Broadband Plan

18 Jul 2019

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The Government has confirmed an extra €200m will need to be raised to fund the National Broadband Plan, while also ruling out Eir’s bid.

Following the Government’s announcement that it will rule out Eir’s bid for the National Broadband Plan (NBP), Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, TD, said this morning (18 July) that extra funds will be needed to bring it to fruition.

As reported by The Irish Times, the Minister said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme that another €200m will need to be raised over a period of two to three years. Based on the Irish economy growing by approximately 3pc each year, Donohoe believes that tax surpluses over this period should be enough to cover the extra cost.

Yesterday evening (17 July), Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, TD, ruled that Eir’s proposal “is not a feasible alternative”. Last month, Eir CEO Carolan Lennon appeared before an Oireachtas committee to say that the company could roll out the broadband plan for less than €1bn, which is closer to the NBP’s original price tag.

With Eir’s bid ruled out, Bruton said the expectation is that the formal contract with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) for the plan will be signed later this year.

“Work is progressing on finalising the contract for the NBP. It is crucial that we move to sign the contract so that the 1m people who today are without access are not left behind,” Bruton said.

“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.”

This morning, Donohoe reiterated the Government’s stance, saying that Eir’s bid did not have the same protections promised to taxpayers as the NBI bid.

Additionally, Eir’s proposal would have resulted in it taking ownership of all the infrastructure as part of the roll-out.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic