The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has issued a request for qualifications for the network, which requires 100% access by 2020 and minimum service requirements, under the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
Under the plans, contractors will design, finance, develop, construct, operate, maintain and exploit a wholesale Next Generation Access network and associated services within the NBP Intervention Area, which currently covers over 750,000 premises.
The department has included two possible ownership models within the procurement: a Commercial Stimulus Model (build, finance, own, operate and maintain with obligations) and a Concession Model (finance, build, operate and maintain with asset reversion). The government will shortlist one model at the end of pre-qualification.
There are three lots, split into Southern and Northern Intervention areas and a combined area. Bidders can opt for the lot areas individually or for the entire area on either or both of the ownership models. Separate lots have been created for each of these areas utilising the different models.
The government has allocated €275m in initial capital for the first six years of the 25-year contract. This is the initial stimulus needed to deliver the infrastructure build-out, to be complemented by commercial investment. The contract will involve European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding.
The NBP is to address the broadband connectivity challenge in rural areas by stimulating investment at a wholesale level.
Responses are due by 29 February 2016.
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