Wednesday, 5 July 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
31. Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the amount spent on phase 1 of the MANs; the amount it is estimated that Phase 2 and 3 of the MANs project will cost; the amount of the MANs network that is currently lit; the level of uptake on the MANs; the recent contact he has had with the MANs operator; the way he intends to invigilate the operator if the present multi-million euro level of losses continues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26624/06]
Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. N. Dempsey): The total cost of the Phase One MANs was approximately €85 million. All 27 networks are now complete. They have been handed over to the Management Services Entity, eNet, which was contracted in June 2004 to manage, market and maintain the networks on behalf of the State for a period of fifteen years. All the completed networks are lit and open for business. There were forty-four MAN customers by the end of April 2006.
It is important to note that the MANs will realise a return on investment over a longer period than the private sector is prepared to risk. The creation of such open-access infrastructure is seen as an essential enabler of development, and is already offering opportunities for businesses both large and small to become and remain competitive through ICT.
e-Net’s contractual obligations for the management, operation and maintenance of the MANs are set out in the Concession Agreement between my Department and e-Net. Tight controls exist within the Concession Agreement to closely monitor e-Net’s performance. e-Net formally reports to my Department on a quarterly basis and is obliged to file various documents throughout the contract term dealing with its activities. e-Net also publishes an annual set of accounts. The Department is at all times entitled to carry out an audit of the networks.
The cost for phase two is estimated to be in the region of €140 million. Phase two will provide networks in more than 90 towns. Subject to funding being available, a further phase that would construct networks in the remaining towns with populations greater than 1,500, could cost €80 million.
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