I propose to take Questions Nos. 51, 61, 64, 66, 89, 94 and 135 together.
The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract 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 554,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with some 679 schools. The NBP roll out is currently a 7 year plan under the contract and deployment is due to be complete by the end of 2026.
Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has made steady progress on delivery of the new high speed fibre broadband network under the National Broadband Plan. The first fibre to the home connections are successfully connected with over 27,000 premises passed and available for immediate connection. In total, almost 35,000 premises can order or pre-order a connection on the network as of 3 December. This includes residential and commercial premises. NBI has confirmed that over 3,900 premises have been connected as of 6 December and this is increasing on a daily basis. Connections have been made in 11 counties including Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon and Tipperary. To date, the level of connections are in line with projections and some areas are exceeding targets, for example, one area has seen almost a 25% take up after only a few months of going live.
In line with a remedial plan to address Covid-19 related delays which was agreed with the Department earlier this year, NBI was to have almost 60,000 premises passed and available for immediate connection by the end of January 2022 (the end of Contract Year 2). As would be expected with a large scale infrastructure build of this nature, challenges have been encountered as a result of Covid-19 and also planning and build related issues. NBI is actively working with its network and build partners to address these issues as they arise and has recently confirmed to my Department that the number of premises passed by the end of December will be in the order of 35,000, while between 50,000 and 60,000 premises will be able to order or pre-order a service by the end of the year. For more than another 120,000 premises, I am advised build work is underway demonstrating the project is reaching scale.
I met with the Board of NBI on 19 November last to restate the priority the Government attaches to this project and the need for urgent resolution of build related issues. I met with the Chair and CEO of both NBI and eir yesterday to reinforce that message.
The focus for 2022 is to continue to build momentum in the build, catch up on the delays experienced and plan for acceleration. Final targets for 2022 are expected to be agreed early in the new year.