Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
National Broadband Plan: Discussion
The industry view over time was that the Department had budgeted a set amount of money and there was a belief among bidders that this was all that was available. There is certainly a very strong view that SIRO pulled out because it did not think it was possible to put a business model together based on what the State would provide by way of subsidy. As a result, we wound up without true competition at the end. Ms Connolly has confirmed that the Department's budget model was surpassed very significantly at a later stage, leading me to believe what has been in the ether. The net result is that we had one bidder at the end. In addition to the €1 billion of a difference identified, it seems there was at least another €1 billion or perhaps more added to the final projected cost. We are now at a stage where the expected cost to the State is approximately €3 billion. It is indicated on page 24 of the national broadband intervention strategy report by KPMG that the idea was to provide the minimum amount necessary to allow for infrastructure development and this would be best reached through active competition. Does Ms Connolly accept that when we reached the end there was not an active competitive environment and that this makes it difficult to judge whether we are getting a result with the minimum amount of investment?