I am anxious to get to Question No. 33, as is the Acting Chairman, so we can talk about the constituency of Roscommon-Galway.
The overall objective of the Government's national broadband plan is to provide access to a high-speed, future-proofed broadband service to every premises in Ireland. This will be achieved through a combination of commercial and State investment and remains a key commitment of mine and of the Government.
Nearly 46,000 premises in County Donegal do not currently have access to high-speed broadband connections. Every single one of these rural homes, farms and businesses will be served under the Government's national broadband plan, some 12,000 by commercial investment and the remaining 34,000 by the State-planned intervention scheme.
My Department is in a formal procurement process to engage a company that will roll out a new high-speed broadband network in the State intervention area. As the Deputy will be aware, one bidder, Eir, publicly withdrew from this procurement process last month. While its withdrawal is regrettable, it is entirely a commercial decision made by that company.
My Department's specialist national broadband procurement team will continue to engage intensively with all the relevant stakeholders in the process, including the SSE-Enet consortium, to ensure the earliest possible achievement of the Government's objective of providing reliable, high-quality, high-speed broadband to every one of the homes, farms and businesses I spoke of, in County Donegal and every other county. My Department will also engage with the bidder to ensure the most efficient deployment as part of any contract.
When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network roll-out will commence. Through the said combination of commercial investment and State-led intervention the national broadband plan has already provided high-speed broadband connections to thousands of homes around the country, ensuring that today seven out of ten premises can access this vital service. By the end of this year this figure will be eight out of ten and by 2020 nine out of every ten premises will have access to a high-speed broadband connection.