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'Significant interest' expected as first National Broadband tender issued

300 Broadband Connection Points are due to be set up in GAA clubs, community centres and public libraries.

Image: Shutterstock.com

THE DEPARTMENT OF Rural and Community Development expects “significant interest” from providers after issuing a tender for wireless access points for the National Broadband Plan. 

The tender is for 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCP) to be set up in GAA clubs, community centres and public libraries in six regions across Ireland.

The Department estimates that whichever service provider is awarded this contract could be paid as much as €800,000 over a three-year period for installation services.  

The NBP is the Government’s plan to roll-out high-speed broadband to 1.1 million people living and working in nearly 540,000 premises – homes, schools, businesses and farms – where commercial operators won’t commit to delivering service. 

In November, the Government signed off on a €3 billion contract after The European Commission granted State Aid for the project, which has been beset by delays. 

The tender issued by the Department includes installing network equipment – wireless routers and control boxes – as well as ongoing internet services.

A spokesperson for the Department said it “anticipates a significant level of interest from telecoms operators in this initiative…given that BCPs will be the first connections established under National Broadband Plan.”

National Broadband Ireland was awarded a contract for NBP in November after a controversial bidding process which led to leading bidders withdrawing from consideration. A contract was expected to be awarded in 2018. 

Former communications Minister Denis Naughten resigned, however, after revelations of meetings with Head of Granahan McCourt, David McCourt.

Granahan McCourt was the sole remaining bidder when it was granted ‘Preferred Bidder’ status in 2019. 

Opposition parties have criticised Government for signing the NPB contract, arguing Ireland’s broadband network should be publicly owned considering the State is investing significant money in it. 

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