The assessment of the final tender for the delivery of the National Broadband Plan is due to be brought to Cabinet "shortly", the Secretary General of the Department of Communications has told a Dáil committee.

Mark Griffin is before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, where he was asked about comments from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last month that the rollout of the NBP will cost "many multiples" of the original estimate.

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry asked Mr Griffin to "shed light" on the Taoiseach's comments

Mr Griffin explained that "the initial cost estimate of €355m to €512m was for a scheme of a much narrower scope. It was a scheme that was announced back in 2014 by then minister Pat Rabbitte. Primarily, the scheme looked at provided fibre backhaul to about 1,100 villages primarily throughout rural Ireland, with the assumption being that the commercial sector would come in a deal with what is termed the "last mile".

He said that the original estimate did not make provision for connection costs to individual premises.

Then the Department took the view was that the scheme was not fit for purpose.

Mr Griffin said that he could not go into current cost estimates as the procurement process is still under way.

However he added that the first cost estimate was based on a high level desktop analysis and it was a higher figure than the €355m to €512m that was mooted.

He said that the other complicating factor is that this is a bespoke project and it is "not like a road where you can say that on average a road is €10-12m per kilometre, or a school where you know it is a particular size with a particular number of classrooms. It is a project where we have no national comparators, until Eir did their 300,000, and very few international comparators."

He said that just as the chairperson of the National Transport Authority said that they could not put a cost on the Metrolink project until the final design is completed, "that is an experience that we have had."

Responding to similar questions from Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, Mr Griffin shared some statistics on the scale and complexity of the project. 

He outlined: "You are talking about probably 14,000 kilometres of duct being used and about 1.2million poles. That will give you an idea of the scale of the rollout."

"When you look at the areas we are trying to get to, most if not all are quite remote, not being served by the commercial sector and there are no plans to serve them by the commercial sector and we will be reusing very substantial chunks of the existing infrastructure and there will be new build as well," he added.

Mr Cullinane asked the Department of Communications representatives if they are confident that the project will go ahead.

Mr Griffin replied that: "I am confident that the project as presented will deliver on all broad objectives. The decision to proceed will be a government decision."