Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Ceisteanna (216)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

216. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the estimated completion date of the national broadband plan; the original estimated date; and the number of delays in the plan. [14115/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

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 544,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with 695 schools. In line with the NBP Contract, the deployment plan is a 7 year build programme which is due to be completed by the end of 2026. This remains unchanged.

The Covid 19 pandemic has had an impact on the delivery of the fibre network resulting in delays on delivery of aspects of the programme. Impacts include challenges with mobilisation of key contractors with restrictions on operations, supply chain and logistic delays both nationally and internationally, as well as the recruitment of key personnel as NBI and its contractors scale up, including challenges associated with on-boarding and training people. The extent of this impact is currently being assessed and NBI has committed to put in place measures to mitigate the impact as far as possible.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also 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.