The European Commission has given clearance for Irish State aid to fund the urgently required National Broadband Scheme that aims fit out the remaining 15pc of Ireland currently neglected for broadband services.
Four candidates have already pre-qualified for the next phase of the procurement process, including BT Communications Ireland Consortium, Eircom, Hutchison 3G Ireland and an IFA/Motorola consortium.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD has invited the four players to participate in a “competitive dialogue” procurement process and they are due to respond by next month.
They will then be required to present their proposals to the Department for the last unserved parts of Ireland.
It is expected that the preferred bidder will be selected and appointed in June next year.
“This is a clear demonstration of how importantly broadband provision is regarded here and in Europe,” said Minister Ryan.
“This Government has made the delivery of broadband services to rural areas that are not yet served a key goal in our Programme for Government.
“Today’s decision by the Commission now paves the way for the selection of a preferred bidder and the roll out of the badly needed new services as soon as possible,” Ryan said.
By John Kennedy