The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract signed last November to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the over 544,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools.In County Clare, there are 69,225 premises of which 22,592 (33%) are within the intervention area for the National Broadband Plan. The deployment plan forecasts premises passed in all counties within the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State having access to high speed broadband within the next four years. I am advised by NBI that, as of 18 November 2020, over 131,000 premises across all counties have been surveyed which is ahead of the full year survey target of 120,000 that had been projected by the company. Surveys have been completed in County Clare in the areas of Cratloe, Ballycannan, Ballyglas and Cloghrea and further surveys have recently commenced in the areas of Kilkishen. Surveying is the first step towards delivering the new fibre network and involves physically walking the routes and documenting images, notes and measurements of the poles, cables and underground ducts in each area. This informs design solutions for provision of the fibre network to each and every premises in the surveyed area and leads to detailed designs. The detailed designs are then used to initiate the ‘make ready’ project with Open eir for the area, where Open eir ensure any poles and ducts being reused are fit for purpose and the make ready of other required infrastructure. This step also informs decisions on equipment ordering. Survey data is also needed to initiate pre-works which pave the way for the deploying of fibre. Pre-works involve construction of new duct routes, erection of poles, building chambers, and tree trimming. On completion of these pre-works, the main construction works can commence. This involves deploying fibre overhead on poles and in underground ducts, splicing of fibre, and unblocking of ducts. Once the main construction works are completed and the appropriate level of testing has been undertaken, the fibre network can be commissioned and end users can order their connection. Further details are available on specific areas within Clare through the NBI website which provides a facility for any premises within the intervention area to register their interest in being provided with deployment updates through its website www.nbi.ie. Individuals who register with this facility will receive regular updates on progress by NBI on delivering the network and specific updates related to their own premises when works are due to commence. I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding the level of information available on the deployment of the NBI network and I am advised that NBI is working to provide more detail on its website, with a rolling update on network build plans.Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a key element of the NBP providing high speed broadband in every county in advance of the roll out of the fibre to the home network. As of 6 November, 147 publicly accessible BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on in these locations through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development. Cree Community Centre, Loop Head Lighthouse and Michael Cusack Visitor Centre are BCPs which are now connected in Co. Clare. A further BCP at Loughraney has had infrastructure installed by NBI and will be connected in the coming weeks.
Some 48 schools throughout Ireland have now had infrastructure installed by NBI, with 22 schools already connected to high speed broadband. In Clare, a number of schools including Shragh, Ennistymon and Stonehall National Schools are now connected as part of this initiative. Further details can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-locations/. My Department continues to work with Department of Education and Skills to prioritise the remaining schools to be connected over the term of the NBP.