The Government is committed to delivering high-speed broadband to every home, farm, business and school in Ireland. It is vital that we ensure the people of rural Ireland have the same opportunities as the people in our towns and cities.
The fundamental building blocks of the project, which is designed to bring fibre to the home to over 1.1 million people in the intervention area, have not changed since the procurement process commenced. The project is led by Granahan McCourt, supported by key subcontractors Enet and the Kelly Group, with Nokia as the provider of electronic equipment.
After appointment as the preferred bidder, the sponsors are required to finalise a number of steps before a contract can be signed. The Department is also required to carry out the necessary due diligence.
These steps included closing out contracts with infrastructure access providers, civil engineering companies and so on; concluding the contractual provision in the 3,000-page contract; and the finalisation of the committed equity documents with the shareholders of the new company, National Broadband Ireland.
As is standard in large projects, including public private partnerships, PPPs, the final mix of shareholders to the project is concluded when all contractual documents have been finalised. The national broadband plan, NBP, process has been no different in this regard.
The bidder proposed for contract award that McCourt Global LLC be replaced by Oak Hill. The procurement process for the national broadband plan contract includes a mechanism for the Department to assess and approve, or reject, changes to the membership of bidders. This assessment is carried out by ring-fenced teams with similar make-up to the teams that carried out the evaluation of the final tender, and overseen by a review panel and the procurement board. The Minister has no role. This due diligence was carried out against the conditions set out in the assessment process and was approved.
As the Deputy knows, the project information memorandum sets out the procurement process and the documents are published.
As part of the assessment of a change, the relevant bidder is required to demonstrate that it continued to meet the economic and financial standing, together with technical and professional capacity, set out in the original pre-qualification criteria. The Department could not approve a change in bidder composition unless the relevant bidder met those criteria.
The funding commitments of National Broadband Ireland, including the equity investment commitments, have been contractualised as part of the contract award.