Dáil Éireann - Volume 680 - 09 April, 2009

Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.

Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the 3G internet service offered by a company (details supplied) in the proposed national broadband scheme is included as a broadband internet service to the OECD’s broadband statistics. [15028/09]

  Deputy Eamon Ryan: Mobile network operators first launched mobile broadband services in European countries in 2007. Since its launch in Ireland in Quarter 2 2007, the demand for mobile broadband services has been growing steadily. The latest figures from the Commission for Communications Regulation [332] show that over 25% of Irish broadband subscriptions are mobile subscriptions. The take up of mobile broadband in Ireland is well ahead of the EU-27 average.

Because mobile broadband is a relatively recent development the OECD does not yet include mobile broadband subscriptions in its periodic reports. However, the matter has been discussed at recent OECD meetings and the need to include wireless data, which encompasses mobile subscriptions, in future reports is accepted. While the finer details of how best to include and report the data needs to agreed, future OECD reports will include data on mobile broadband subscriptions.

Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the information available on the national selection process for the national broadband scheme. [15029/09]

  Deputy Eamon Ryan: On 2 May 2007, my Department commenced the tender process for the National Broadband Scheme using the Competitive Dialogue Procurement procedure as set out in the European Communities (Award of Public Authorities’ Contracts) Regulations 2006, which implemented Directive 2004/18/EC.

The process comprised of a number of significant stages:

Prior Indicative Notice (PIN) was published on 30 January 2007 on the etenders website. The full notice is available at www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/show/search _ view.aspx?ID=JAN076137.

Contract Notice was published on etenders website on 2 May 2007. The notice is available at www.etenders.gov.ie/Search/Search _ Switch.aspx?ID=49185.

By 5 July 2007, my Department had received 11 compliant responses to the first stage of the procurement process, the Pre Qualification Questionnaire. Following the evaluation of these responses, four candidates pre-qualified to enter the next phase of the procurement process. The four candidates were: BT Communications Ireland Ltd Consortium, Eircom Ltd, Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd and IFA/Motorola Consortium.

Invitation to Participate in Competitive Dialogue (ITPCD) and Revised Invitation to Participate in Competitive Dialogue (RITPCD) — the pre-qualified candidates were then invited to participate in the competitive dialogue process and to present their proposed solutions to meet my Department’s initial requirements for the delivery of broadband to unserved areas of the country (ITPCD). Following this initial response and subsequent dialogue with candidates, the initial requirements and the initial contract evolved and a revised solution was requested as part of RITPCD. At each of these phases, detailed technical, commercial and contract discussions took place with the remaining candidates following my Department’s evaluation of the responses.

The finalised Invitation to Tender (ITT) documentation was issued on 25 August 2008 to the remaining candidates, Eircom Ltd and Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd. IFA/Motorola Consortium and BT Communications Ireland Ltd Consortium withdrew from the process before the ITT issued.

[333] Two bids were received on 6 October 2008 and following evaluation, the preferred bidder, Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd was selected on 25 November 2008. My Department entered into the contract with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme on 23 December 2008. Further details regarding the award of the contract were published in the Contract Award Notice which is available at:

www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/show/search _ view.aspx?ID=JAN113140 .

Information relating to the National Broadband Scheme can also be found on my Department’s website at www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Communications+Development.htm .