In an institution like this it could grind the country to a halt, so keep clear.
I welcome the opportunity to speak again in the House on the national broadband plan. Right now, as I speak, seven out of ten premises in this country have access to a high-speed broadband service. By the end of this year I expect this proportion to rise to nearly eight out of ten, and by the end of 2020, when the roll-out of the national broadband plan State-led intervention is well under way, nine out of ten premises in this country will have access to a high-speed broadband service. The contract for a company to deliver high-speed broadband to approximately 540,000 premises in the intervention area will be awarded once a compliant technical and financial solution that delivers value for money to the Irish taxpayer is received.
Before Eir withdrew from the procurement process, I understand that the national broadband plan, NBP, procurement team was working to a timeline whereby it would have selected a preferred bidder by September. The procurement team is now considering whether the procurement timelines can be brought forward in a single-bidder scenario. Once a contract is signed and the State-led intervention has begun to roll out, it is estimated that the vast majority of premises in the intervention area will have access to a high-speed broadband service within three years. It is a reality of any infrastructure roll-out of this scale and scope that there will be those isolated and harder-to-reach premises and areas which may take longer than this to serve. This is an unavoidable fact. However, it is my firm resolve that the occupants of these premises will not have to wait one day longer than absolutely necessary to receive the service they need.