The availability of high speed broadband to every home in the country will unlock the door to equal participation in digital transformation which is already transforming our lives and will continue to bring fresh opportunities that will be crucial to operations in Ireland's regions.
My Department commissioned a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the national broadband plan, as is a mandatory requirement under the public spending code. A cost-benefit analysis benefits report and a detailed benefits calculation annex were published in 2015. This analysis was updated over the last four years and the finalised cost-benefit analysis was published earlier this month. Alternative options for delivering high speed broadband were also considered in the context of only one bidder remaining in the process and this analysis has also been published. Each of these alternatives was considered against the cost-benefit analysis framework. In stress testing a number of alternative options, it is not expected that a full cost-benefit analysis will be carried out. Rather, the approach is to evaluate the salient changes that other options would bring in the context of the general framework of benefits and costs. Some options sought to reduce the area covered, alter the technology, delay the roll-out or alter the model underpinning the tender. This all involved an examination of costs, potential changes in timing and roll-out, state aid requirements and so forth, depending on the alternative under consideration. That analysis concluded that these alternatives would take longer to reach 100% of the premises in the intervention area and in some scenarios would involve leaving some premises behind. In addition, the analysis concluded that the alternatives considered could potentially result in a higher cost to the State and would require a consultation on a new strategy, along with a new procurement process and state aid application. Some of the alternatives considered were unlikely to provide the level of future proofing required under the European Commission's strategy for a gigabit society.