National Broadband Plan

  • Affordability for households must be at the heart of the new National Broadband Plan.

    That's according to Mayo FG Senator Michelle Mulherin, who points to the low take-up of high-speed broadband already rolled out by Eir under its commercial rural deployment plan, as only one in 7 of these households have taken up the offer.

    As the final bid for the national broadband contract is still being evaluated, Senator Mulherin says broadband packages should be affordable for all homes.

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    The independent auditor reviewing the National Broadband Plan is to review new documents that have emerged from the Department of Communications.

    The papers reveal that former Communications Minister, Roscommon's Denis Naughten and his officials had two previously undisclosed meetings with the businessman leading a bid for the multi billion euro project.

     

    Deputy Naughten resigned last week over his contacts with David McCourt from the Enet consortium, that's now the only bidder left in the NBP process.

    Details of the meetings emerged from a trawl of diary meetings involving the former minister, senior officials and the members of the Enet group over the last two years.

    The minutes for all meetings have also been published.

    In a statement the department says it engages with Enet on other issues not related to the tendering process.

    All details will now be forwarded to Peter Smyth, the independent auditor to consider as part of his review into the handling of the bidding process.

    Mr. Smyth will submit a report to the Taoiseach within three weeks.

     



     

     

     

  • The former Minister for Communications has disputed a claim made by the Taoiseach that he only told him about additional meetings with David McCourt yesterday morning.

    Denis Naughten stepped down from his role at the cabinet table yesterday after it was revealed he met businessman David Mc Court in private, multiple times.

    Speaking to Midwest News today Denis Naughten said at this stage it a question of “he said he said” in terms of who said what between himself and the Taoiseach, but he stated categorically that as the Minister for Communications he did nothing wrong and was determined to provide better broadband and mobile telephone coverage to the people nationally who need it.

     

  • Galway Minister hits out at calls to reopen the procurement for the National Broadband Plan as ill-advised and ill-timed.

    Galway East TD Sean Canney has warned that reopening the National broadband Plan would leave over a million people in rural Ireland waiting up to three to four years for internet service and that it would increase the final cost of the roll-out.

    Minister Canney  said the recommendation to bring the network back into public ownership would be impractical given that the infrastructure being used  are already in private ownership creating additional costs.

    The Minster for Community development advised against moves to bring the Plan under public ownership on the grounds that it may turn from an asset to a liability as technologies develop.

  • The Government has officially given the go ahead for the National Broadband Plan.

    A preferred bidder for the contract has been appointed to roll out high speed internet access to 1.1 million people.

    The Cabinet approved the plan this evening - after a meeting that went on considerably longer than expected.

    The plan, which will cost in the region of €3 billion, will see high speed broadband being rolled out to every home and business in the country.

    The first new homes will be connected in 2020 - but some may have to wait years to be connected.

     

     

  • Senior officials from the Department of Communications will be in front of TDs and Senators later today to discuss the timeframe, cost and ownership of the National Broadband Plan.

    The Oireachtas Communications Committee is meeting to hear the views of those responsible for the rollout of rural broadband to more than 500-thousand homes and businesses across the country.

    About €3 billion of taxpayers' money will be invested in the plan.

    Chairperson of the Oireachtas committee, Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton, says key aspects of the project will be scrutinised:

  • The government says a decision on the future of the National Broadband Plan will be delayed until Easter.

    It received the final tender for the contract in September last year and had said a decision would be made quickly.

    However the deadline has been delayed a number of times as they continue to examine the bid from Granahan McCourt.

    Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Dara Calleary says there needs to be progress made as soon as possible.

  • The government's facing further criticism for the delay to the National Broadband Plan.

    Yesterday the Communications Minister Richard Bruton confirmed a decision won't be taken this week as had been expected.

    The final and sole tender for the project - to provide broadband to more than 500,000 homes - is being examined.

    Mayo Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh says the National Broadband Plan was a promise in the 2011 Fine Gael manifesto and says it’s now time to show they are serious about delivering it.

  • The Communications Minister Denis Naughten has defended his attendance at a dinner in New York hosted by the head of the bid for the National Broadband Plan, at which issues relating to the bid were briefly discussed.

    The Roscommon-based Minister says he and a number of his officials attended an event hosted by David McCourt, chairman of private investment firm Granahan McCourt.

    The last remaining bidder for the National Broadband Plan, a consortium originally led by E-net but now led by Granahan McCourt, submitted its tender last month.

    Minister Naughten says the issue was "discussed briefly" when he and Mr McCourt met in New York.

    Speaking on national radio, the Minister said he regularly meets with people who are investing - or planning to invest - in Ireland, and he added that he has never been directly involved in the procurement process relating to the NBP, which was a decision taken before he became minister.

    Fianna Fáil's communictions spokesman Timmy Dooley says Minister Naughten should not have attended the New York dinner, describing it as highly inappropriate, while Social Democrats' TD Catherine Murphy has said that Mr Naughten's meeting with Mr McCourt has undermined public confidence in the process of awarding a contract for the National Broadband Plan.

    This evening, Sinn Fein and the Green Party have called for the minutes of the dinner meeting in New York to be released.

  • The Communications Minister Denis Naughten insists the National Broadband Plan is still on track.

    Following the withdrawal of SSE from the Enet consortium over the weekend, concerns have been expressed about the delivery of broadband to rural areas.

    However, Minister Naughten told Midwest News today that tenders are expected from the Enet consortium in the coming weeks, and he expects the procurement process will be completed later this year, as expected.

    Minister Naughten said he does not expect this latest development to delay the rollout of the National Broadband Plan....

  • A Cabinet Minister claims Eir is acting like 'a spoilt child' over the National Broadband Plan.

    The company pulled out of the tendering process, but claimed last month it could roll it out for only a billion euro.

    That's a third of the contract-price the government expects to sign with National Broadband Ireland later this year.

    The Department of Communications yesterday ruled out Eir's latest proposal, saying it wasn't feasible.

    Mayo based Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring say the company is 'playing games'.

  • While the Government has further delayed a decision on the National Broadband Plan until after Easter, commercial companies are continuing to rollout highspeed broadband in towns across Co Mayo.

    The proposed National Broadband Plan aims to provide broadband to the most remote houses and premises in the country, but in the meantime, companies like Eir are providing highspeed broadband to more customers in the less remote areas.

    That's according to Mayo FG Councillor Jarlath Munnelly.

    Speaking to Midwest News after the monthly meeting of the Ballina Municipal District, Councillor Munnelly cited the example of broadband being rolled out to areas on the outskirts of Killala town. 

    However, the difficulties faced by rural areas that don't have broadband have been highlighted by Ballina Independent Councillor Seamus Weir.

    While commercial companies are continuing to rollout high-speed broadband in many towns and cities across the country, he says some rural areas are being left behind and it's causing severe difficulties - particularly for those running a business or hoping to work from home.

  • The Government's decision to proceed with the National Broadband Plan is a turning point for the revitalisation of rural Ireland.

    That's according to former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, who says fibre to the home is the only option to ensure high-speed broadband is available in every corner of the country for the 25 years of this project.

    While more expensive than other suggested options, Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten says fibre is the only viable solution - despite the initial cost.

    The Independent TD resigned as Minister for Communications last October following controversy over meetings he had with David McCourt, the businessman heading up the Granahan McCourt consortium, which was the only group bidding for the National Broadband Plan contract, and was yesterday approved by Cabinet.

    Deputy Naughten has repeatedly said that broadband will be as important in the coming years as rural electrification was in the last century.

    Speaking with Midwest News, he welcomed the Government's decision to proceed with the National Broadband Plan, which will provide high-speed broadband to over 540,000 premises in rural Ireland...

  • The National Broadband Plan will be a game changer for rural Ireland, according to the Mayo-based Minister for Rural & Community Development.

    The Cabinet yesterday approved a preferred bidder for the plan, which will see high-speed broadband being rolled out to 540,000 premises all areas of the country, benefitting 1.1 million people - almost a quarter of Ireland's population.

    56,000 farms, 44,000 small businesses and 674 schools are among the premises which will be connected under the plan, with the roll-out of fibre broadband commencing in the last quarter of this year.

    The Government says the majority of premises will be connected with the next 4 to 5 years under the plan, which will cost almost €3 billion - with a €151 million investment in Co Mayo.

    Minister Michael Ring says it will be a game-changer for the areas of rural Ireland currently without broadband...

     

  • The rollout of the National Broadband Plan will be delayed again as TDs look at reviewing how the contract was awarded.

    The government hoped to sign a contract with the preferred bidder, Granahan McCourt, in time for an announcement at this week's National Ploughing Championship.

    Minsiter for Communications, Richard Bruton, says the contract process cannot be re-started though as suggested by some Dáil members.

  • The independent review into the procurement process for the National Broadband Plan has found that former Minister Denis Naughten and businessman David McCourt did not influence the tender process for the plan.

    The report, by auditor Peter Smyth, was delivered to the Government last week and discussed at today's Cabinet meeting.

    The review was requested by the Taoiseach after it emerged that Roscommon Denis Naughten met Mr McCourt a number of times.

    However, the report concludes that neither the former minister not Mr McCourt had the opportunity to influence the conduct of the tender process in favour of Granahan McCourt.

     

     

     

  • The review of the bidding process for the National Broadband Plan was not discussed at this morning's Cabinet meeting.

    The report by Peter Smyth was received last evening by the Communications Minister Richard Bruton, with a view to it being presented to Ministers this morning.

    However, that's now expected to happen at next week's Cabinet meeting instead. 

    The report examines whether contacts between the former Communications Minister Denis Naughten and David McCourt, the businessman leading the only consortium left bidding for the contract, have undermined the plan.

    The reivew was requested by the Taoiseach last month after Roscommon's Denis Naughten resigned when it emerged that he had met Mr McCourt a number of times while the procurement process was continuing.

    Mr McCourt is the founder and chairman of Granahan McCourt, the only remaining bidder for the contract that would see the rollout of broadband across rural Ireland.

     

  • A review of the National Broadband Plan would "plunge the whole project into uncertainty" according to the Communications Minister.

    He was responding to a Fianna Fáil motion calling for an urgent examination of the controversial process.

    The huge project has only one remaining bidder after Eir withdrew.

    But Minister Denis Naughten says a review will be counter-productive

  • A Roscommon/Galway TD has hit out at the continued delays in signing of the contract for the National Broadband Plan which he says is having a serious impact on hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in rural Ireland, waiting to be connected to the network.

    Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy raised the matter in the Dail last week.

    There is only one company Enet, left in the running after Eir pulled out the process earlier this year.

    Deputy Murphy says Minister for Communications Denis Naughten has failed to give any indications as to when the contract for the National Broadband Plan will be signed.

    Deputy Murphy says there is appalling broadband connectivity in Co Roscommon, with figure showing that there are over 38,500 premises in Roscommon of which almost half are relying on the State led intervention under the NBP. Some 12% of Roscommon premises are still due to receive high speed broadband under Eir’s ongoing planned rural deployment.

  • There are concerns that the Government's 2020 deadline for the rollout of high speed broadband across rural Ireland will not be met.

    It comes as SSE yesterday became the latest company to withdraw from the bidding process for delivering the National Broadband Plan.

    The e-net consortium says the bid is very much on track and it's just weeks away from submitting its final tender.

    However, Roscommon-Galway Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice asks who will make up the €100 million euro deficit left by SSE's withdrawal from the e-net consortium.

    If a new investor is required, that will take time, and could further delay the rollout of broadband, which is essential for rural areas, according to Deputy Fitzmaurice.

    Minister of State Séan Kyne insists the Government is still committed to the National Broadband Plan, and it's full steam ahead.

    He said tenders from the remaining consortium are expected in the coming weeks, and the Government hopes to award the contract soon after that.

    But speaking with Midwest Radio, Deputy Fitzmaurice says this latest development raises a number of questions about the planned rollout of broadband.....