The government has asked the National Broadband Plan firm to shorten the rollout period from seven to five years.
Speaking in the Dail, Communications Minister Richard Bruton said that he has asked National Broadband Ireland, the company that won the state’s €3bn rural broadband tender, to restructure the rollout so that those who were scheduled to wait until the last two-year phase of the plan are connected sooner.
The contract timetable currently promises the service to 250,000 rural residents by the end of 2021, with the remaining homes to be connected over a five year period.
“My officials are currently in discussion with the company… to investigate the feasibility of accelerating the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, so that those now [scheduled] in year six and seven could be brought forward,” Mr Bruton said in the Dail.
“The target is to try, from the second half of next year, to accelerate the rollout. I hope that this can be achieved.”
Mr Bruton said that 80 community broadband connection points promised under the NBP rollout plan will be completed “by the end of the summer”, with a further 220 such connection points completed by the end of 2020.
The National Broadband Plan is to provide ‘full fibre’ broadband connections to 540,000 rural homes and businesses.
“I think in this crisis, people can see the value of being connected, no matter where you’re living,” he said. “I think the reasons why we pushed ahead with this are becoming more clear to people. Delivering services remotely are more valued now.”
A spokesperson for NBI was unable to comment on Mr Bruton’s remarks.