I propose to take Questions Nos. 126, 128, 187 and 199 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 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.
The Programme for Government commits to seek to accelerate the roll out of the National Broadband Plan. My Department is currently engaging with NBI to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of the NBP rollout with the aim of bringing forward premises which are currently scheduled in years 6 and 7 of the network build plan. Minister Ryan has recently written to National Broadband Ireland seeking to put the acceleration of the programme on a contractual footing. Any change to the contract will require detailed technical, commercial and financial analysis by both parties.
NBI has established a dedicated team to investigate the potential for acceleration of the fibre network rollout from its current contracted schedule of seven years. Substantial work has been completed by this team to date including productive engagement with current build partners. It is premature at this point to speculate as to how many premises may benefit from this potential change, but I can say that it will be those premises currently scheduled for the latter end of the rollout that are the focus of the analysis.
While significant progress has been made by NBI over the last year, in challenging circumstances, the pandemic has caused delays to elements of the programme. A remedial plan to mitigate these delays has been agreed and it is in this context that the potential to accelerate the network rollout is being explored. I expect to receive a detailed assessment from my officials by the Autumn and will then bring an update to Government on this matter.
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 May, 310 BCP sites have been installed by NBI and the high speed broadband service will be switched on through service provider contracts managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development for publicly accessible locations and the Department of Education for schools.
My Department continues to work with the Department of Education to prioritise schools with no high speed broadband, within the Intervention Area, for connection over the term of the NBP. In this regard, an acceleration of this aspect of the National Broadband Plan will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026. Further details are available on the NBI website at https://nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/