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Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State at the Department of Justice & Equality, David Stanton, has welcomed confirmation that the Government has approved the appointment of a preferred bidder for the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

The preferred bidder, Granahan McCourt, has assembled a team with considerable collective international experience in the provision of large scale telecommunications projects. As required under law, a new Irish registered company to be known as National Broadband Ireland (NBI) will be established to build, operate and maintain the network. NBI will supply broadband to an estimated 1.1 million people and 540,000 premises within the intervention area. This area includes 100,000 businesses and farms and over 600 schools nationwide where commercial operators will not currently commit to delivering high speed broadband or where there is a limited prospect of commercial service in the future.

The final bid provides for a reliable, high-specification fibre broadband supply to 98% of all premises nationwide with residential speeds starting from 150mb/s and rising to 500mb/s in year ten while higher speeds will be available for businesses. Network deployment will commence immediately once contracts are signed and it is envisaged that over 90% of premises will have high speed broadband access within the next four years. Nearly 300 broadband connection points (BCPs) will be provided in the first year to act as free Wi-Fi hotspots. The provision of the fibre network will take place in conjunction with these BCPs, with 120,000 premises covered by the second year and 70,000-100,000 annually thereafter.

“I am pleased that the Government has appointed a preferred bidder for the NBP which will ensure that every home, business and farm across Cork East can now look forward to high speed broadband no matter where they are located. This is a significant investment in rural Ireland and a commitment by the Government to provide rural communities with the same opportunities as those living in commercially serviced urban areas” said Minister Stanton.

“I understand the importance attached to the rollout of the plan in Cork East as limited broadband availability has been highlighted in several rural areas while issues with poor speeds have also emerged in pockets of urban areas. This importance is reflected in the fact that Cork will receive the highest investment of any county under the NBP with a total investment of €290 million planned over the next 25 years to service almost 75,000 premises designated AMBER for state intervention.

“With the procurement process having now concluded I believe that the NBP will have a transformative effect on communities in Cork East by enabling a variety of vital services including flexible and remote working, smart health and farming, cloud computing and digital learning”, concluded Minister Stanton.