More than €25m spent on National Broadband Plan to date

Varadkar previously confirmed cost had risen to ‘many multiples’ of original estimate

National Broadband Plan: Ministers had been warned the cost of the project could reach as much as €3 billion. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

National Broadband Plan: Ministers had been warned the cost of the project could reach as much as €3 billion. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

More than €25m has been spent on the National Broadband Plan to date, the Public Accounts Committee will be told on Thursday.

The secretary general of the Department of Communications Mark Griffin is to appear before the committee to discuss the plan ahead of an expected Government decision on whether to proceed with its roll-out.

Mr Griffin is expected to say that the evaluation of the tender for the project, received from the sole remaining bidder led by the US businessman David McCourt last September, is concluding.

“That process is now reaching a conclusion and as the Minister has indicated, he intends to bring a recommendation to Government shortly,” according to Mr Griffin’s opening statement which has been seen by The Irish Times.

Expenditure

A briefing note to be given to committee members will state that total expenditure in relation to the National Broadband Plan to mid-March 2019 amounts to €25.413 million. Mr Griffin is expected to tell TDs that the network needs to be future-proofed because many people are using significantly more data than they did previously.

“Given the pace of developments, it is clear that the NBP network needs to be future-proofed and capable of meeting increasing data demands, supporting new ways of working and new technologies.” He will say that in the last three months of last year, an average fixed broadband subscriber used 170GB of data per month.

“This was a 17 per cent increase from the same quarter in 2017 and more than double the volume of data when compared to the same period in 2015.”

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously confirmed that the cost of the National Broadband Plan had risen to “many multiples of the original estimate”.

The plan was originally estimated to cost €500 million. However, costs are believed to have escalated sharply in recent years and late last year. Ministers had been warned that the cost of the project could reach as much as €3 billion.