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 699 schools.
I am advised by National Broadband Ireland that, as of 12 November 2021, over 277,000 premises in the Intervention Area across all counties have been surveyed. In County Cork surveys are complete in the Deployment Areas of Carrigaline, Midleton, Youghal, Templemartin and Tallow. Main build work are currently underway in Midleton and Youghal and are complete in Carrigaline. There are over 3,700 premises included in the Bantry Intervention Area and these premises will be delivered with high speed broadband under the NBP ensuring that no premises is left behind.
I am advised that there are over 125,000 premises currently under construction and Retail Service Providers are actively selling on the NBI network with over 30,000 premises available to order and pre-order across 13 counties. This includes over 4,500 premises in County Cork. Further details are available on specific areas within County Cork 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 as works commence. NBI has a dedicated email address, email@example.com, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.
In addition to the challenges to the delivery of the NBP due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has faced a range of other challenges due to the sheer scale and complexity of rolling out fibre to the home in a rural environment. These include significant tree trimming to ensure cable can be placed on overhead poles, remediation of ducting that has been in place for many decades, the co-ordination of hundreds of contracting crews and addressing the many issues arising week on week which could not have been foreseen until the build crews commenced work on the ground. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract. This plan addresses delays experienced by NBI, primarily arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and re-baselines milestones for 2021. Work is underway to re-baseline milestones for 2022 and beyond. This has resulted in some changes to timeframes for connection for end users.
The network rollout for the National Broadband Plan is divided into 227 Deployment Areas (DAs) across the country. These are typically an area of approximately 25km in radius and in total they cover 96% of Ireland’s landmass. The architecture of the network design is specifically based on the design of the NBI network coming from the eir exchanges or the metropolitan area networks (MANs). It is based on an engineering design that allows NBI to get to every premises as quickly as possible working within the confines of how fibre networks are built.
Each DA creates a ‘fibre ring’ which is essential to ensure reliability, robustness and resilience. Critical to the success of the network, NBI’s fibre rings are built with back-ups, ensuring that in the event of one fibre cable being disrupted, the whole network continues to perform. Each fibre ring that NBI deploys is designed in a way that is non-discriminatory, meaning that as the rollout progresses, it may pass relatively urban areas at the same time as passing some of the most remote premises within the intervention area. The design will utilise existing infrastructure to a very significant degree.
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 12 November, 389 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 for publicly accessible sites and the Department of Education for school BCPs. BCP’s are installed in County Cork at Ballydaly Community Hall, Aubane Community Centre, Mealagh Valley Community Centre, Courtbrack Community Centre, Laharn Heritage Centre, Ballindangan Community Centre, Clogagh Community Hall, Aghabullogue Community Centre, Castletownkenneigh Community Centre, The Old Schoolhouse, Bere Island Heritage Centre, Coláiste Phobal Cléire, Lissavard Community Centre, Whitechurch Community Centre, Glash Community Centre, T.O. Park Labbamollaga and Sherkin Island Community Hall.
Templebrady National School, Ballycroneen National School, Clogagh National School, Educate Together Carrigaline, Ringaskiddy Lower Harbour National School, Scoil Naomh Fionan Na Reanna, Ballygarvan National School and Shanbally National School have been installed by NBI for educational access. 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 was announced in December which will see some 679 primary schools connected to high speed broadband by 2022, well ahead of the original target delivery timeframe of 2026.