The Government has formally opened the procurement process for the State Intervention to provide high-quality, high-speed broadband nationwide by 2020.

Minister for Communications Alex White described this as a “defining moment for our citizens, the telecommunications sector, and for our economy”, which marked the beginning of “the largest and most significant broadband intervention ever in Ireland”.

Minister White formally published the Project Information Memorandum and the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) for the procurement process.

An updated Intervention Strategy, which takes account of responses to the public consultation and subsequent expert analysis, as well as the 2020 High Speed Broadband Map were also published.

The Government has allocated €275m in initial capital for the first one to six years of the 25-year contract.

This is the initial stimulus needed to deliver the infrastructure build-out, to be complemented by commercial investment.

The Minister noted that while most of the Strategy was outlined in the July consultation, a number of changes have been introduced, including moving from a 20 to a 25-year contract, a two-lot rather than three-lot approach to procurement, and a reduction in the number of ownership options from five, to two.

Around 1.2m homes and businesses in Ireland currently have access to high speed broadband.

Mr White said: “Through the combination of industry and State investment, we will ensure that 85% of premises in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband by 2018, with 100% access by 2020.”

eir has welcomed the launch of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) pre-qualification process and the continued commitment by the Government to progress with the NBP as quickly as possible. 

The company said it would continue to actively engage with this process to ensure that the Government’s target to provide high-speed broadband for every home and business in Ireland by the end of 2020 is met. 

In addition, eir said it remained “fully committed” to its own commercial investment plans to provide high-speed broadband to 1.9m premises by 2020.