As I have outlined to the House, the NBP procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I intend to bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.
With regard to the deployment of infrastructure for the network, in the event a preferred bidder is appointed and contract is subsequently awarded and signed, deployment will commence with activity across all counties at the earliest possible opportunity.
Given that deployment is likely to take a number of years, the bidder will be required to provide almost 300 broadband connection points across all counties in the first year of deployment. These broadband connection points have been selected by local authorities and are locations of community importance such as schools and community centres. They will provide communities with access to high speed broadband services pending a high speed broadband solution to the home being achieved under the NBP.
Under the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, Local Authority Broadband Officers act as a single point of contact between local authorities and commercial operators. The work of Broadband Officers is reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements between Local Authorities and commercial operators.
During the roll out of the State Intervention network, Broadband Officers will be in a position to increase the efficiency of deployment through improved communication between the Bidder and Local Authorities and communities.