National broadband contract to be awarded mid-2008

7 Nov 2007

The awarding of the contract for an operator to deploy broadband to cover the remaining 15pc of Ireland currently neglected by providers under the National Broadband Scheme will not be announced until the second quarter of next year, it emerged today.

The aim of the National Broadband Scheme is to ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband will be met. However, by the time the contract for covering the last 15pc is finally awarded it will be almost a full year since the previous communications minister Noel Dempsey TD announced the scheme in May this year.

The National Broadband Scheme replaces the now defunct Group Broadband Scheme, which was scrapped because of poor take-up. A mere 7,000 to 8,000 people received broadband under the scheme, far below the envisaged 90,000.

So far four consortia have been shortlisted to complete the scheme, including Eircom, BT, Hutchison 3G Ireland and an IFA/Motorola consortium.

Addressing a Shannon Development Seminar this morning, the Minister for State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Tony Killeen TD said the new National Broadband Scheme will be there to ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband in unserved areas are met.

“It is intended that the contract for this scheme will be awarded in Quarter 2 of next year and the rollout of services will begin as soon as possible thereafter,” he said.

“As the communications industry moves towards the implementation of next-generation networks, this Government will ensure that Ireland is best placed to avail of the opportunities that the move presents.

“As a Minister of State in this department, I am determined to ensure that consumers will benefit through faster and cheaper broadband availability no matter where they live,” Killeen said.

By John Kennedy