More than 20,000 premises connected under National Broadband Plan

14 Oct 2022

From left: Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú, Cathrina and Francis Bellew, Digiweb MD Declan Campbell and NBI CCO Joe Lavin, at the Bellew family farm in Co Louth. Image: David Norton

NBI said its ability to move premises to the order phase is ramping up, but the company is facing sanctions and criticism for delays and performance issues.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has hit a new milestone with more than 20,000 homes, farms and businesses now connected to its high-speed rural network.

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

The company said that, as of 5 October, a total of 20,512 premises are now connected to its network, giving guaranteed access to minimum broadband speeds of 500Mb.

NBI said more than 94,000 premises are passed, which means they can pre-order high-speed fibre broadband from one of its retail partners.

“20,000 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 CCO Joe Lavin.

“We look forward to even more Irish households benefiting from the limitless possibilities created by becoming one of the most connected countries in Europe.”

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

In April, a report by the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) said the plan “does not represent value for money to the taxpayer”. There had been an agreed target with NBI 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. By February, only 6,000 homes had signed up to receive fibre broadband.

NBI is also facing sanctions for building delays and performance issues, which are expected to be more than €250,000 in the coming weeks, The Irish Times reports.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on communications and broadband Ruairí Ó Murchú, TD, said the latest milestone is “hopefully a sign of forward momentum” in the roll-out.

“While we wish we were further along, delivery is gathering pace, but there is a requirement on the Government and NBI’s infrastructure partners to ensure every effort is made to achieve acceleration,” he added.

NBI’s original target of having 205,000 premises passed by the end of January 2023 was revised to 102,000. In July, NBI said it expects to surpass that revised target before the end of the year. This was the same month where the company hit a milestone of 15,000 connected premises.

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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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic