High-speed broadband can be rolled out quicker than planned, says Naughten

Update 12.27pm: The Communications Minister claims nationwide high-speed broadband can be rolled out quicker than planned, now Eir has withdrawn its contract bid.

Denis Naughten says it will be easier to deal with Enet on its own after the only other competitor pulled out yesterday.

The Government has always promised that 1.9 million homes and businesses will have fibre broadband by the end of this year.

But Minister Naughten says the latest development could see work speed up.

He said: "I am determined as Minister, to ensure they get it not one day later than is absolutely necessary.

"Because Eir has now pulled out of this process we are now in a position where we can actually get contractors on the ground quicker than expected."

Communications Minister Denis Naughten.

Eir meanwhile, is blaming the Government for its decision to withdraw its contract bid.

CEO Richard Moat says the process was too complicated and the Government was paying too little.

He said: "We anticipated that we would be able to charge those prices which had been set by the regulator.

"There was an indication by the department that they would be looking for discounts, potentially significant discounts on those prices."

Update 9.23am: Ireland 'global leaders' when it comes to rolling out broadband, says Naughten

The Communications Minister claims we are the global leaders when it comes to rolling out broadband.

Denis Naughten says no other country in the world is trying to bring high-speed broadband to every single home and premises.

His comments follow the news that Eir - one of the two remaining bidders for the broadband contract - pulled out of the race yesterday amid claims that the process was too complicated.

But Minister Naughten says their withdrawal will make the rollout faster and says we are setting an international example.

He said: "We are the global leaders in what we are doing, no other country in the world in doing what we are attempting to do.

"One of the founders of the internet said that what we are doing here is going to set the benchmark for the globe and that every country across the world is looking at us."

Richard Moat, Eir.

The head of Eir meanwhile has denied there is a hidden reason for withdrawing its bid for the national broadband contract.

CEO Richard Moat is rejecting claims that Eir's new French owner does not want to take on such a difficult task.

He said: "There is no hidden reason, we have been involved in this process since the start and we went into it wanting to win as much as we possibly could.

"But over time the process has become very complex, the contract has become increasingly onerous and when you combine those factors with factors which are external to the process then we couldn't make a positive business case."

Earlier: Opposition claims taxpayer will foot the bill after Broadband Plan becomes one-horse race

The opposition is claiming the taxpayer will have to foot the bill, after the contest to deliver the National Broadband Plan became a one-horse race.

Eir withdrew from the process yesterday, leaving the E-net consortium as the sole bidder.

Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley.

The massive contract is to deliver broadband to around half a million homes and businesses in rural areas.

The Communications Minister Denis Naughten says he is confident Enet will not try to hike up their asking price.

But Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley thinks that is naive.

He said: "Now we have one bidder and the fact of the matter is that the Government, the department have lost control of this process by going down the privatisation route.

"I warned them about this, this has become the plaything of capitalism and that has what happened here, the taxpayer will lose out on this process."

- Digital Desk

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