Up to 75,000 Cork homes to get high-speed connections under controversial broadband plan

Up to 75,000 Cork homes to get high-speed connections under controversial broadband plan
Minister for Communications Richard Bruton.

AROUND 75,000 premises in Cork will be connected to high-speed broadband as part of the National Broadband Plan, the preferred bidder has claimed.

National Broadband Ireland, the Granahan McCourt led Consortium behind the successful bid to deliver broadband to rural homes, said the project will see a €295m investment in Cork in the next 25 years.

The private consortium was last week given the green light to go ahead with the project which is expected to cost between €3bn and €5bn.

The Taoiseach revealed that the consortium will pay €220m in initial funding to the rollout of the project.

He added, however, that Granahan McCourt would be responsible for investing €2.4bn over the next 25 years.

The Government had been under increasing pressure from opposition parties to divulge the financial details of the plan since it gave the project the green light last week.

Ministers approved Granahan McCourt as the preferred bidder for the rollout of high-speed broadband to more than 540,000 homes and businesses across the country, despite warnings from senior civil servants that the plan posed “unprecedented risks” to the taxpayer.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil today that if the project is delayed, the consortium would have to put in more equity, not the state.

He added that there is no “better option” and any alternative would lead to delays and, as a result, could cost more.

Asked by Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin whether he agreed with civil servants at the Department of Public Expenditure on the level of risk to the taxpayer, the Taoiseach replied:

“No, I don’t agree that this is an unprecedented investment, nor do I think it is an unprecedented risk.”

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Timmy Dooley has proposed that a detailed investigation be conducted into several aspects of the National Broadband Plan, including the Government’s handling of the project to date.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that National Broadband Ireland’s network will use the latest fibre-to-the-home technology to guarantee minimum speeds of 150 Megabits per second increasing to a minimum 500 Mbps by year 11 - with customers able to choose packages of up to 1Gbps (Gigabits per second).

Peter Hendrick, CEO of National Broadband Ireland, said the plan is a “complex technical project” that will take time and requires major investment.

He added that once built “it will future-proof Ireland for generations”.

The consortium aims to have successfully delivered to community locations in the intervention area within the first year and to have successfully connected homes in all 26 counties by the end of year two.

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