SSE has pulled out of the only remaining bidding team in the tender for the Irish National Broadband Plan (NBP) PPP project. Three bidders were shortlisted for the project in 2016, but teams led by Eir, the largest telecommunications operator in the country, and a joint venture between Vodafone Ireland and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), pulled out of the tender in January 2018 and September 2017, respectively.
The remaining team is led by Irish telecoms provider Enet, and includes Granahan McCourt, John Laing plc and the Irish Infrastructure Fund. The team is bidding to design, finance, develop, construct, operate, maintain and exploit a high-speed broadband network covering 750,000 premises in rural Ireland. This will bring the number of Irish premises with high-speed broadband from 70 to 90%.
Both Enet and the Irish government have insisted that SSE's decision will not affect the tender process, with Enet claiming to be "just weeks away from submitting [the] final tender". However, many have expressed certainty that the withdrawal will delay the NBP, with some doubting that a contract will be signed before 2020.