The purpose of the national broadband plan is to ensure that more than 1.1 million of our citizens in rural Ireland have the same opportunity to participate in the digital society as citizens living in urban areas. The availability of ubiquitous high-speed broadband will bring significant benefits in areas such as e-health, e-education, smart farming, regional development and tourism.
As I outlined in my response to an earlier question from Deputy Stanley, my Department commissioned a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the national broadband plan, which is a mandatory requirement under the public spending code. In stress testing a number of alternative options, it is not expected for a full cost-benefit analysis of each to be carried out. Rather, the approach is to evaluate the salient changes that other options would bring and evaluate them in the context of the general framework of benefits and costs. Some options sought to reduce the area covered, to alter the technology, to delay the roll-out or to alter the model underpinning the tender. All of this involved an examination of costs, potential changes, state aid requirements etc.
In developing alternative options, my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform were in regular and ongoing engagement. Publication of the initial costings of the analysis of alternative interventions in advance of a revised strategy could impact on the State’s ability to get value for money in a procurement process, which is why these costings have not been made public.