I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 and 203 together.
The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State intervention.
Over the past 5 years, the NBP has driven commercial investment in the upgrade and expansion of networks to the tune of some €2.75 billion. When this Government came into office in 2016 just over 5 out of 10 premises in Ireland had access to a high speed broadband service. Today over 7 out of 10 premises can access this service.
In Kildare 84% of premises now have access to a high speed broadband service in comparison with 75% in 2016. This number will rise in the coming months as an ongoing commercial deployment by eir continues.
For those premises that will not be served commercially, the State is in the process of engaging a company to build a high speed broadband network. The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage.
Evaluation of the final tender submission is ongoing and will be allowed the time required. On conclusion of the evaluation, my Department will make a recommendation to me on whether to appoint the bidder as preferred bidder and I will bring the matter to Government for decision.
The Intervention Strategy for the NBP sets out minimum required speeds in line with the Digital Agenda for Europe 2020. I understand from my Department that the NBP State intervention network is likely to be a predominantly fibre network, meaning most premises can expect a basic introductory offering of up to 150 megabits per second download, with higher speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second download also available.
The State intervention network, when complete, will push Ireland to the forefront of connectivity, both on an EU and an international level.