First premises connected in National Broadband Plan roll-out

22 Jan 2021

The O’Connor family in Cork have been connected to the new network. Image: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Work is currently underway to deliver the new high-speed fibre network to almost 20,000 premises across Cork, Cavan, Galway and Limerick.

After several years of delays and complications, the first premises have been successfully connected to the new high-speed fibre-to-the-home network under the National Broadband Plan.

Today (22 January) National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company delivering the network on behalf of the Irish Government, announced that premises in Cork and Cavan have been successfully connected. The first connections in Limerick and Galway are also expected in the coming weeks.

The Government signed the €3bn National Broadband Plan contract in November 2019 after it had been awarded to NBI earlier that year.

‘Access to a new high-speed fibre network will be transformative for communities and businesses across Ireland, especially in light of the pandemic’

In October 2020, the Government then announced “a major milestone” as the first group of broadband connection points were connected.

Now, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, said the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan to homes and businesses is another “significant milestone”.

“Access to a new high-speed fibre network will be transformative for communities and businesses across Ireland, especially in light of the pandemic and an increasing reliance on remote working and learning.”

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, added the National Broadband Plan will connect more than 1.1m people across 544,000 homes, businesses, farms and schools where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity.

“The growth in remote working and learning during the pandemic has highlighted how critical access to reliable, high-speed connectivity is to our lives,” Ryan said.

“Today marks a major milestone in the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan as we see the first connections and I’m delighted that homes and businesses will soon be able to start placing orders to receive access to world-leading connectivity.”

Scaling operations

The first family to be connected are the O’Connors from Carrigaline, Co Cork. NBI said its team has scaled operations to work across all 26 counties. It currently has construction, the final phase of delivering the network, underway for 19,237 premises across Cork, Cavan, Galway and Limerick.

The initial premises to be connected across these counties will be able to start placing orders through their chosen retail service provider from 25 January.

David McCourt, chair of NBI, said teams around the country have conducted more than 158,000 surveys and 120,000 designs of individual premises, which are the “critical first steps” in the roll-out.

“We started with boots on the ground in January 2020 and teams have scaled and mobilised to be in 26 counties across the country, working incredibly hard to roll out the National Broadband Network as quickly and effectively as possible, despite the extremely challenging environment caused by Covid-19.”

Speaking on a Reuters podcast last year, McCourt said the National Broadband Plan could “hopefully” be completed in five years.

“Originally it was a 10-year project, then it was a seven-year project and now, because of Covid-19, [the Irish Government] want to make it a five-year project. It’s a multibillion-dollar project, so to do it in five years will be difficult, but we’ll do our best.”

Residents and businesses will be able to place orders with a number of retail service providers. Around 33 retail service providers have already signed up to sell services on the NBI network and 17 are certified as ready to start providing connections to premises once they become available.

NBI expects the number of premises under construction to be more than 130,000 by the end of the year, with approximately 70,000 premises available for connection at prices similar to those available in urban areas.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic