I welcome the opportunity to provide the house with an update on the Government's national broadband plan. The plan aims to ensure that every citizen and business has access to a high-quality, high-speed broadband service. This will be achieved through a combination of commercial investments and a State-led intervention in areas where commercial services will not be provided. The intervention area to be served by the State intervention includes some urban areas but it predominantly covers rural and regional Ireland, which requires a step change to bridge the digital divide separating it from urban counterparts.
As the Deputy knows, my Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company that will roll out a new high-speed broadband network in the State intervention area. That procurement process is now in its final stages. My Department will engage with the successful bidder on the most efficient roll-out of the network. As part of the deployment, the successful bidder will be required to provide early high-speed connectivity to the previously identified high-speed strategic community access hubs across the country. The network that will be built by the successful bidder in the State intervention area will be a fully open access network providing wholesale telecommunications services. The contract will mandate that all retail service providers have open access to the infrastructure, which should result in consumers having access to a range of providers. The terms and conditions of this access will be monitored through the contract.
To answer the Deputy's question, there will be equal access to this network. It will be built by enet-SSE.
It will be a wholesale company and will lease that line to the traditional retailers available in Kilkenny city and every other city across the country to provide the same package and offer to people in rural areas.