I welcome the opportunity to update the House on the status of the national broadband plan and the progress of this initiative towards its goal of ensuring high-speed broadband to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location.
The Deputy will be aware that the national broadband plan, NBP, has both a commercial element and a State intervention element.
The commercial element has been hugely successful, encouraging significant investment by the telecoms sector. Commercial operators have invested more than €2.75 billion in upgrading and modernising their networks over the past five years. In 2012 fewer than 700,000, or 30%, of all 2.3 million Irish premises had access to high-speed broadband. When this Government came into office, this had risen to 52%. Today 74% of premises can access high-speed broadband.
Under a commitment agreement signed with my Department in April 2017, Eir is in the process of passing 300,000 predominantly rural homes with high-speed broadband. According to data for quarter 3 of 2018 submitted by Eir to my Department, the company has passed almost 210,000 premises nationwide as part of its ongoing deployment.
Regarding the State intervention element of the NBP, my Department is now in the final stages of a procurement process to engage a company which will build, maintain and operate the State intervention network.
My Department has received a final tender submission from the bidder which is tendering for this contract. This submission is under assessment by my officials.
It is my priority that the procurement process be brought to a fair and impartial conclusion as quickly as possible. In the coming weeks I will bring a recommendation to Government on the remaining bidder's submission.