15,000 premises now connected under National Broadband Plan amid delays

25 Jul 2022

Image: © Teerasan/Stock.adobe.com

More than 70,000 premises are now able to place an order or pre-order for high-speed fibre broadband with a registered provider.

More than 15,000 homes and businesses are now connected to the National Broadband Ireland (NBI) network as the roll-out of high-speed internet continues in rural Ireland.

NBI is the company responsible for delivering the National Broadband Plan on behalf of the Irish Government.

Minister of State with responsibilities for communications Ossian Smyth, TD, said that the €2.7bn plan aims to address “regional imbalances” in connectivity to high-speed fibre broadband and ensure “equal opportunities for all communities” across Ireland.

“The 15,000th connection marks a major milestone in the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan and I’m delighted that so many homes and businesses have been connected and can now receive access to world-leading fibre network.”

NBI said that, as of 15 July, a total of 15,484 premises are now connected to its network, giving guaranteed access to minimum broadband speeds of 500Mb. These premises include homes, schools, businesses and community facilities across Ireland.

A further 70,716 premises are now able to place an order or pre-order for service with one of the providers that are registered on the NBI network.

The company projects that this figure will increase to 128,000 premises by the end of 2022.

“15,000 connections is a significant milestone for the roll-out and one that we’re continuing to build upon, as our ability to move premises from the construction phase to the order phase ramps up,” said NBI CEO Peter Hendrick.

“Our early take-up levels have exceeded our expectations and are growing all the time, so we anticipate very strong future demand from customers nationwide.”

While take-up rates have been more than 30pc in deployment areas that have been live for a period of six months or more, NBI has been criticised for delays in delivering high-speed internet based on initial targets.

A report by the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) published in April noted the agreed target with NBI was to have 115,000 premises passed by the end of January 2022. An interim remedial plan was submitted by NBI, which had a revised target of 60,000 premises.

The actual number of premises passed by the network by 31 January was 34,454, according to the PAC report. As of February, only 6,000 homes had signed up to receive fibre broadband.

“The committee is concerned that the progress achieved to date does not represent value for money for the taxpayer,” the report said at the time.

NBI’s original target of having 205,000 premises passed by the end of January 2023 was revised to 102,000. But the company is now expecting to surpass that revised target before the end of the year.

The National Broadband Plan aims to connect more than 1.1m people across 544,000 homes, businesses, farms and schools in Ireland where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic