First premises connected in National Broadband Plan roll-out

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After several years of delays and complications, the first premises have been successfully connected to the high-speed fibre-to-the-home network under the National Broadband Plan.

Today (22 January) National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company delivering the network on behalf of the Irish Government, announced that premises in Cork and Cavan have been successfully connected with connections in Limerick and Galway expected in coming weeks.

The government signed the €3bn National Broadband Plan contract in November 2019 after it had been awarded to NBI in May earlier that year.

In October 2020, the Government announced “a major milestone” as the first group of broadband connection points were connected.

Now, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan to homes and businesses announced today is another “significant milestone”.

“Access to a new high-speed fibre network will be transformative for communities and businesses across Ireland, especially in light of the pandemic and an increasing reliance on remote working and learning.”

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, TD, said the National Broadband Plan will connect more than 1.1m people across 544,000 homes, businesses, farms and schools where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity.

“The growth in remote working and learning during the pandemic has highlighted how critical access to reliable, high-speed connectivity is to our lives,” he said.

“Today marks a major milestone in the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan as we see the first connections and I’m delighted that homes and businesses will soon be able to start placing orders to receive access to world leading connectivity.”

Scaling operations

The first family to be connected are the O’Connors from Carrigaline, Co Cork. NBI said its team has scaled operations to work across all 26 counties. It currently has construction, the final phase of delivering the network, underway for 19,237 premises across Cork, Cavan, Galway and Limerick.

The initial premises across these counties will be able to start placing orders through their chosen retail service provider from the 25 January.

David McCourt, chair of NBI, said the teams have conducted more than 158,000 surveys and 120,000 designs of individual premises, which he said are the “critical first steps” in the roll-out.

“We started with boots on the ground in January 2020 and teams have scaled and mobilised to be in 26 counties across the country, working incredibly hard to roll-out the National Broadband Network as quickly and effectively as possible, despite the extremely challenging environment caused by Covid-19.”

Late last year on a Reuters podcast, McCourt said the National Broadband Plan could “hopefully” be completed in five years.

“Originally it was a 10-year project, then it was a seven-year project and now, because of Covid-19, [the Irish Government] want to make it a five-year project. It’s a multibillion-dollar project, so to do it in five years will be difficult, but we’ll do our best.”

Residents and businesses will be able to place orders with a number of retail service providers who will offer services over the network. Around 33 retail service providers have already signed up to sell services on the NBI network and 17 are certified as ready to start providing connections to the first premises once they become available.

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