Minister White formally published initial tendering documents on Tuesday, along with a revised intervention strategy to deliver high-quality broadband to every address in Ireland in the next five years.

The process will see contractors paid by the State extend the network to rural areas where it is unprofitable for private operators to provide reliable services.

Public consultations have led to the reduction in the number of regional lots from three to two, and the extension of the contracts from 20 to 25 years. The Department of Communications said the Government had allocated €275m in initial capital for the first six years of the contract.

Selected companies are expected to provide their own share of investment.

Several operators including Eircom and Siro, the recently formed joint-venture between ESB and Vodafone, have said they would compete for the tender.

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