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The National Broadband Plan hangs in the balance as Eir quits the project

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ieThe National Broadband Plan hangs in the balance as Eir quits the projectImage: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

EIR PLANS TO withdraw from the bidding for the National Broadband Plan, leaving a question mark hanging over the State’s rural broadband rollout with only one firm left in the running for the contract. Fora understands that the company will soon bow out from the process, which will come as a major setback for the government’s already-delayed plans to bring speedy broadband to 450,000 homes and businesses in rural areas. It’s not yet known why Eir, the largest broadband supplier in the State, has decided to exit the National Broadband Plan procurement process.

A spokesman for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment declined to comment. Eir’s spokeswoman also declined to make a statement, saying the company will issue one later this evening. As previously explained by Fora[1], the National Broadband Plan has hit a number of stumbling blocks since it was first announced in 2012.

It took until 2014 for the ‘stakeholder consultation’ phase of the project get under way. Last year, it was dealt a significant blow when Vodafone-ESB joint venture Siro withdrew from the bidding. Eir’s decision to exit will leave just one company, Enet, in the bidding for the State contract, leaving open the possibility that the government will need to scrap or restart the tender process in order to achieve a good deal for taxpayers.

Eir has been proceeding with its own rural broadband rollout, a move that took 300,000 premises off the list for the State-subsided National Broadband Plan. In July of last year[2], Communications Minister Denis Naughten hinted that work on the National Broadband Plan wouldn’t commence until the end of 2018. It was previously stated that a tender contract for the project would be signed by mid-2016.

Another delay to the National Broadband Plan would be a major blow for businesses and residents in rural Ireland. The country has habitually scored poorly in comparison to other EU countries when it comes to the percentage of households that have access to broadband[3]. Sign up to our newsletter to receive a regular digest of Fora’s top articles delivered to your inbox.[4]

Written by Conor McMahon and posted on Fora.ie[5]

The National Broadband Plan hangs in the balance as Eir quits the project
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References

  1. ^ previously explained by Fora (fora.ie)
  2. ^ In July of last year (fora.ie)
  3. ^ percentage of households that have access to broadband (ec.europa.eu)
  4. ^ Sign up to our newsletter to receive a regular digest of Fora’s top articles delivered to your inbox. (fora.ie)
  5. ^ Fora.ie (fora.ie)

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