National Broadband Plan hits milestone of 30,000 connected premises

10 Feb 2023

From left: Ossian Smyth, TD; Marc Ó Cathasaigh, TD; Peter Hendrick, CEO of NBI; Ciara Barry, staff member, Steinberg Fireplaces and Sinéad Scully, Head of Large Business, Vodafone. Image: David Clynch

NBI CEO Peter Hendrick said the number of connections has ‘doubled’ in the past six months, but the company faced criticisms last year for delays and performance issues.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has hit another milestone for its high-speed rural network with 30,000 homes, farms and businesses connected.

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

The company said that the new milestone was reached officially today (10 February) in Waterford.

NBI CEO Peter Hendrick said the number of connections has “doubled” in the past six months, with connections now in all 26 counties in the Republic and 118,000 “ready to connect”.

“We’re hearing back from connected customers that minimum speeds of 500 megabits per second are transformational, for businesses looking to expand and diversify, and for families accessing multiple devices online at the same time,” Hendrick said.

“In County Waterford, one third of the rollout is now complete with over 5,200 premises ready to connect” through one of the company’s retail partners.

Last October, NBI reached the milestone of connecting more than 20,000 premises to its network.

Minister of State for Communications Ossian Smyth, TD, said the latest figure marks a milestone in Ireland’s Digital Connectivity Strategy, which has a goal of every premises having access to gigabit broadband by 2028.

“I am happy to report that, through a combination of significant private and public investment, full fibre broadband subscriptions have increased to over 463,000, representing nearly 19.5pc coverage of all homes and businesses in the state,” Smyth said. “This is increasing at a rapid rate as networks continue to be rolled out and upgraded.”

Criticisms and concerns

NBI’s uptake rates appear to have improved in recent months, but the company has been previously 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 2022 was 34,454, according to the PAC report. By last February, only 6,000 homes had signed up to receive fibre broadband.

NBI’s original target of having 205,000 premises passed by the end of January 2023 was revised to 102,000. Last July, NBI said it expected 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.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic