The Government's strategy for the NBP was devised following a detailed public consultation. The consultation was undertaken against a backdrop where the telecommunications sector in Ireland operates in a liberalised market that relies on commercial operators investing in building infrastructure and offering services to citizens and businesses on a commercial basis.
The commercial sector acting alone, however, has failed to bring high speed broadband to large parts of Ireland. As a consequence, the Government consulted on and brought forward the NBP to address this market failure. Ireland is not alone in facing this challenge. It is a challenge faced by other digitally ambitious EU member states and a number of these member states are making significant interventions in the market to ensure the deployment of high speed broadband connectivity.
As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland does not have a State-owned telecommunications company that owns, operates or builds telecommunications infrastructure. Accordingly, any intervention by the State in the broadband market must rely on commercial entities. It is worth noting that the previously State-owned company, Eir, now subcontracts the physical building of infrastructure, as do the majority of major telecommunications operators in the State.
The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is 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.