Supporting and advising on the governance and oversight of the EUR2.3 billion National Broadband Plan (NBP) network to ensure it delivers on the Irish government’s objectives to address rural broadband requirements

Project experience | Strategy

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The problem

  • As part of its National Broadband Plan (NBP), the Irish government awarded a contract to National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to build a network and provide high-speed broadband to homes and businesses in rural Ireland
  • The NBP contract involves between EUR2.1 billion and EUR2.6 billion in public funding, with the ambition of solving the “digital divide” in Ireland once and for all. The contract is complex, with multiple measures to protect taxpayers and ensure that the objectives of 100% availability of reliable and affordable broadband are achieved. In particular, the contract includes extensive protections, quality checks, and reporting and monitoring obligations
  • The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) manages the contract governance as the contracting authority. To support the Department in monitoring and overseeing the NBP implementation, considering market developments and, when necessary, making changes to the contract, it engaged Analysys Mason to provide advice and support related to the governance and assurance for the initial two to four years of the contract

The solution

Analysys Mason has been working closely with the Department’s team to provide technical and commercial advisory services to support effective management of the contract. Our work spans a number of areas, including:

  • On behalf of the Department, engaging with NBI on an regular basis, such as when attending deployment updates, assessing performance management results, and conducting quality inspections
  • Providing input and expert support from time to time (e.g. as new products are introduced, the regulatory environment changes, or technologies are upgraded/changed), as well as advising on other technical and commercial matters
  • Overseeing deployment of the fibre network and associated systems, ensuring that contractual coverage requirements are met and milestones are achieved in line with the deployment plan
    • We have an active role in confirming designs, “as built” documentation and recommending any (contractual) adjustments to subsidies as the deployment progresses
  • Reviewing, commenting and making recommendations on the systems and processes which support NBI’s open, transparent and non-discriminatory wholesale operation
  • Advising on product upgrades and new products which NBI is obliged to provide under “future proofing requirements” of the 25-year contract
  • Benchmarking NBI’s products against products available in the non-rural market, as NBI is obliged to “shadow” the market by offering similar products
  • A major role of assessing, monitoring and assuring the performance of the network and the services that NBI provides to premises in the intervention area (the contract requires monitoring of the performance of NBI’s network and the service levels provided to its retail operator customers (and the residential and business customers of those retail operators)

Figure: Map of the Intervention Area (amber) for the NBP (Source: DECC, 2019)


The result

  • The support delivered by Analysys Mason provides assurance to the Irish government that the NBP contract is being managed effectively and that NBI is meeting its obligations with regard to deployment, (transparent, open and non-discriminatory) wholesale operations, performance and future proofing
  • Analysys Mason was previously the lead technical adviser to the Irish government as it developed the NBP – more details of that work can be found here