I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 77 together. 41 and 77 together.
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. The Programme for Government commits to seek to accelerate the roll out of the National Broadband Plan. In this regard, my Department continues to engage with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of this rollout to establish the possibility of bringing forward premises which are currently scheduled in years 6 and 7 of the current plan to an earlier date.
NBI has established a dedicated team to investigate acceleration of the rollout from its current contracted schedule of seven years. All possible alternative network providers are being considered and substantial work has been completed by this team to date with further actions scheduled over the coming months. Part of this work includes an assessment of the potential to utilise the ESB Network for certain areas and this work is on-going. The technical feasibility of whether the ESB network is compatible with the NBI solution has been the primary focus and NBI has undertaken site surveys and developed a detailed design for a pilot area using the ESB network, with the aim of establishing from this pilot exercise, the feasibility of using the ESB infrastructure on a broader basis.
Exploring the potential to accelerate the network rollout is being undertaken in parallel with the measures required to mitigate delays arising as a result of Covid-19.