National Broadband Ireland named preferred bidder for National Broadband Plan

David C. McCourt
David McCourt

Plan expected to be completed by 2026 at a cost of €3bn

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8 May 2019 | 0

National Broadband Ireland, the consortium led by investment firm Granahan McCourt, has been announced as the preferred bidder for the National Broadband Plan (NBP), by Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, Richard Bruton. The seven-year plan is expected to cost €2.7 billion, far in excess of the initial €500 million costing. The Granahan McCourt bid was the only one remaining following the departure of eir, Siro, Imagine, Gigabit Fibre, and other interested parties.

Established in response to the NBP, National Broadband Ireland brings together a team with significant national and international expertise in designing, building and operating large-scale telecommunications networks.

National Broadband Ireland’s plan will provide access to nearly 540,000 premises, currently without access to high speed broadband (known as the ‘intervention area’. Whilst most of these are in rural Ireland, it will also include urban areas where pockets of the population have been left without such access.

By building its wholesale, open access network, National Broadband Ireland (NBI) will provide consumers and businesses with choice. This means that people located within the NBP Intervention Area will be able to buy the same services, at the same prices, as those living in other parts of the country that are currently connected outside of the scheme.

It has also been confirmed that National Broadband Ireland’s network will use the latest fibre-to-the-home technology to guarantee minimum speeds of 150Mb/s increasing to a minimum 500Mb/s by year 11 – with customers able to choose packages of up to 1Gb/s. Ownership of the new network will be passed to NBI on completion of the project.

David C McCourt, of National Broadband Ireland and founder and CEO of Granahan McCourt, said: “With this new network, rural premises in Ireland will finally have access to high speed broadband – which has become a 21st century necessity.

“To deliver a project of this size and complexity, it takes specific experience in building, managing and operating networks – this is what we do. Our team has a proven track-record managing the successful rollouts of 24 National Telecom Networks in Ireland, Europe, the United States and Central America and has delivered hundreds of thousands of kilometres of fibre across 56 projects. Over the past 30 years, our people have led the funding, financing and management of over €40 billion in infrastructure assets and we’re proud to bring this experience and knowledge to this broadband plan.”

National Broadband Ireland has nominated key subcontractors based on their extensive expertise and capabilities. enet, Ireland’s largest open access network operator and the company which manages the state-owned Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), will be a key subcontractor providing co-location facilities and access to the MANs which National Broadband Ireland will use to deploy from. Nokia, the multinational data networking and telecommunications equipment company – nominated as a key technology partner – brings state-of-the-art technology to futureproof the project.

More than 40 specialist contractors have also been nominated as part of NBI’s procurement process to fulfil key functions of the NBP rollout. These include the Kelly Group, Actavo and KN Group – who each bring immense national and international experience – to support with the construction phase and deliver the rollout.

Peter Hendrick, CEO, National Broadband Ireland, said: “For over three years, we have built a team which brings together some of the best and brightest minds in the telecoms industry. This highly experienced and highly motivated team has developed an infrastructure plan that ensures the rural digital divide is consigned to the past.

“The NBP is a complex technical project that will take time and requires major investment – but once built it will future-proof Ireland for generations. Within the first year, we will have successfully delivered to community locations in the intervention area, and in year two, we will have successfully connected homes in all 26 counties.”

National Broadband Ireland’s deployment will include delivering high-speed broadband to almost 300 broadband connection points within the first year, at community locations identified and selected by broadband officers in local authorities. The facilities will include community halls, libraries, GAA facilities and other public spaces, paving the way for homes and premises to be connected thereafter.

“By the end of the second year 130,000 premises in the intervention area will be passed, with a further 70,000 to 100,000 passed each year thereafter. By the end of our deployment plan – we will have passed all of the approximately 540,000 premises in this area, meaning 100% of the country will have access to high speed broadband,” said Hendrick.

A trenche of e-mails will be released by government today revealing the history of the tendering process from its inception in 2012.

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