In December 2008, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment entered into a contract with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (now 'Three') for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme following the conclusion of a tendering process. The objective of the NBS was to provide basic, affordable, scalable broadband services to rural areas where broadband services had been deemed to be either inadequate or not available. Using both mobile broadband technology and, in a limited number of cases, satellite solutions, the scheme made basic broadband services available to over 235,000 premises in 1,028 Electoral Divisions (the NBS Contract Area). In August 2014, after a 68-month operational phase, the NBS expired. The net exchequer cost of the Scheme was €43 million. The total combined cost – public and private – of delivering broadband services under the scheme came to some €170 million, of which €36 million was funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In accordance with Public Spending Code guidelines, a post implementation review was carried out on the Scheme.
The objective of the review was:
- To assess whether the original basis on which the NBS project was taken was correct
- To assess whether the expected benefits and outcomes from the scheme materialised
- To examine whether the planned outcomes were the appropriate responses to actual public needs
- To assess whether the scheme appraisal and management procedures adopted were satisfactory
- To draw conclusions on lessons learned from the operation of the NBS.