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National Broadband Plan claims 22pc takeup rate as former Minister criticises ‘slippage’ in rollout

The National Broadband Plan is seeing above-average takeup rates in areas where it is rolled out, the company says. However, former Communications Minister Denis Naughten says that the completion dates have “slipped again”.


National Broadband Ireland CEO, Peter Hendrick

National Broadband Ireland CEO, Peter Hendrick

National Broadband Ireland CEO, Peter Hendrick

22pc of homes “passed” by the National Broadband Plan have connected to the network, according to the rollout company’s boss.

Peter Hendrick, CEO of National Broadband Ireland (NBI), is set to tell a Joint Oireachtas Committee that signups to the network so far amount to 14,200 homes out of the 63,652 premises that have been “passed”.

While Mr Hendrick has described the takeup as better than normal, his remarks come after criticism from a former Communications Minister that the National Broadband Plan has “slipped again” in its targets.

“National Broadband Ireland gave a commitment last September that they would pass 60,000 homes by the end of January of this year,” said the Galway-Roscommon TD in an interview on local radio station Midlands 103. “They've just passed 63,600 homes by the end of June of this year. So those targets have slipped again.”

However, NBI says that the €2.7bn state-backed broadband rollout now has “real momentum” and experiencing “stability” and “predictability” in the rollout schedule, thanks to 300 new workers on sites and an additional rural construction contractor.

Mr Hendrick will tell the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications that NBI’s downwardly-revised target of 102,000 premises by the end of January 2023 is on track to be met.

“Today we have 330,000 premises surveyed, which is 60pc of the entire intervention area [of 559,000 premises] and detailed designs for 313,000 premises complete,” Mr Hendrick’s opening remarks say, a copy of which has been seen by Independent.ie in advance of the meeting.

“These activities, which are vital precursors to the main build, are continuing at pace, and are now ahead of profile. On average we are building between 7,000 and 10,000 premises each month with stability and predictability across the programme.”

Mr Hendrick will also say that there are 182,000 premises where build works have either commenced or been completed. This, he says, is “the leading indicator of progress and project momentum”.

On takeup, NBI claims that in deployment areas where the service has been available for more than six months, adoption rates exceed 30pc.

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“This initial indicator of demand for the network is surpassing anything we have ever seen in Ireland when compared to other commercial rollouts, and indeed in comparison to other international projects,” Mr Hendrick will say. “We now have some 56 retail service providers partnered with NBI to sell gigabit fibre products and services on the network.”

Mr Hendrick will also say that NBI has added 300 additional workers to the project since January, bringing total employment to 1,500 on the rollout operation. The extra construction resources include a new building contractor, Gaeltec Utilities. This, says Mr Hendrick, brings “a wealth of experience in rural construction”.

Work on the islands is also progressing, he says, with fibre build activity on six islands off Mayo and Donegal.


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