THE consortium responsible for rolling out broadband to more than 500,000 homes and businesses in rural Ireland is investing just €220m up front.
Communications Minister Richard Bruton revealed the figure this afternoon amid much criticism from Opposition parties who claim the State is carrying too high a burden for the project.
Taxpayers are on the line for up to €3bn and will not own the infrastructure at the end of the 25 year contract.
But Mr Bruton said this is a “really important investment for rural Ireland”.
He said the Government has evaluated all of the options available and cannot identify a cheaper way of bringing high-speed broadband to every home in the country.
The minister told RTÉ’s ‘News At One’ that officials examined the idea of owning the fibre lines at the end of the contract with Granahan McCourt but decided the “least risky” option was to leave it in the hands of the company.
- Read more: Broadband plan not a leap of faith and bidder is on hook for any extra cost, insists Bruton
He insisted that by allowing the company retain ownership they would incentivised to future proof the network.
Mr Bruton said the company will ultimately be spending €2.4bn, although much of this will be offset by income from users.
Earlier Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin accused the Government of entering a “sweetheart deal”.
He said the fact Granhan McCourt will spent a total of €2.4bn was “spin” because much of that money will be set against guaranteed income.
Mr Howlin said during his time as Public Expenditure Minister he never received any advice as damning as that which Paschal Donohoe received from his officials in relation to broadband.
He predicted there would be a tribunal in a decades time about the rollout of broadband.
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