Such cases are the reason the State is putting money into this project. We have had differences in the House in terms of how it should be delivered and what the exact contact arrangements should be.
I did not hear that and in my role in opposition I was always in support of the need for the plan at significant cost, but I believe it is worthwhile. The excuses the Deputy has mentioned as to Covid-19 were a reality. We all know that the working world did in many instances come to a halt because protecting workers’ safety came first. That is not an excuse, it is a reality.
The commitment and the desire to meet the objectives of the national broadband plan are absolutely concrete and clear. The desire to try to accelerate it, in part by what has happened with Covid-19 and the importance of having connectivity for people working remotely, is very real. I am committed to doing everything I can to try to do that, in Wexford and everywhere else.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good, reliable broadband to ensure that citizens across Ireland can avail of remote working, education and other essential online facilities. This is reflected in the commitments in the programme for Government where delivery of the national broadband plan will be a key enabler to many of the policies envisaged particularly around increased levels of remote working. The programme for Government has also committed to seek to accelerate the roll-out of the national broadband plan.
The national broadband plan State-led intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland, NBI, under a contract signed last November. The network will offer users a high speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 500 Mbps from the outset and represents an increase from the 150 Mbps committed to under the contract. The deployment plan forecasts premises passed in all counties within the first two years and over 90% of premises in the State having access to high speed broadband within the next four years. As of 15 September, design work is complete or ongoing in target townlands across 21 counties and steady progress is being made with more than 91,000 premises surveyed to date. By year end, NBI expects to have completed some 120,000 surveys. This survey work is feeding into detailed designs for each deployment area and laying fibre should commence shortly with the first fibre to the home connections expected around December this year.
While substantial progress has been made to date, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the delivery of the fibre network. The extent of this impact is currently being assessed and NBI has committed to put in place measures to mitigate the impact in as far as possible.
My Department is engaging with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of the NBP roll out to establish the possibility of bringing forward premises which are currently scheduled in years six and seven of the plan to an earlier date. These discussions are ongoing. Any changes proposed will require detailed technical, commercial and financial analysis.
Exploring the potential to accelerate the network roll-out is being undertaken in parallel with the measures required to mitigate delays arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which must be the primary focus at this juncture.