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 some 679 schools. My Department as the contracting authority manages all of the elements of contract governance and engages with NBI on an ongoing basis across all elements of the programme to deliver the new high speed broadband network.
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.
NBI has implemented a number of measures to help lessen the impact that these challenges have had on the rollout including:-
- Increasing the rate of pole replacement and duct remediation per month;
- Bringing in additional NBI resources;
- Earlier procurement of material used in the build stages; and
- Bringing in additional subcontractors.
National Broadband Ireland has made steady progress on delivery of the new high speed fibre broadband network under the National Broadband Plan with almost 35,000 premises available to order and pre-order in 13 counties across Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Wexford and Wicklow. In total, over 282,000 premises in the Intervention Area across all counties have been surveyed, with over 150,000 premises under construction or complete with activity now underway in all 26 counties.
While delivery of the Programme is the responsibility of NBI under the Contract, my Department continues to monitor delivery very closely in accordance with the Department’s role under the contract. In parallel with the ongoing oversight of the contract with NBI, the Department has also been working with the 31 Local Authorities, the County and City Management Agency (CCMA), the Roads Maintenance Office (RMO), Broadband Officers and other Government Departments, where appropriate, to ensure that any possible barriers that might delay the rollout are addressed as soon as possible. This also includes engagement with other bodies such as Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Irish Rail and ComReg.