National Broadband Plan rollout continuing to falter – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said he expects that National Broadband Ireland will be invited to appear again at the Public Accounts Committee in the autumn to account for ‘the continued woeful progress of broadband rollout’.

 

The €2.7 billion 25-year contract is intended to build and operate high-speed broadband services to 544,000 predominantly rural homes.  However, the scheme has been plagued by delays and missed targets since day one.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“The rollout of the National Broadband Plan has been marked by delays, missed targets and a lack of transparency.

 

“For most families and businesses in rural communities, their primary concern is the time-frame for a long awaited connection.

 

“Initially, the National Broadband Plan had a target of 180,000 homes passed by the end of January 2022; this was the subject of multiple revisions, eventually reduced to as low as 60,000.

 

“This minimal target was also rendered meaningless as only 32,680 were passed by the end of 2021.

 

“The first months of 2022 saw similar revisions and failures to meet promised milestones.  The target for January 2023 now stands at102,000 homes passed – 80,000 less than the original target for 12 months previously!

 

“According to the most recent Parliamentary Question responses I have received, as of July 15th, the number of premises passed stood at just 70,700.

 

“Far from exploring how the National Broadband Plan can be accelerated as promised by Minister Eamon Ryan when launching the governments plan for rural Ireland – serious questions remain as to if NBI have the capacity to deliver this plan at all.

 

“The Public Accounts Committee has been highly critical of the approach taking by NBI and the Minister Ryan’s department to date.  I expect that they will be appearing before PAC once again in the coming months to account for their dismal performance.”

 

Responses to Parliamentary Questions:

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 26/07/2022
Question Number(s): 160 Question Reference(s): 41722/22
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: Matt Carthy T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

[Ref No.: 41722/22]

*  To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of premises that have been passed to date by the National Broadband Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Matt Carthy.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 26th July, 2022.

(2659  Received on 19th July, 2022.)

REPLY

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 almost 560,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with some 679 schools.

I am advised by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) that, as of 15 July 2022, over 313,600 premises are design completed and over 70,700 premises can order or pre-order a high-speed broadband connection across 23 counties. NBI has further advised that over 63,600 premises are passed with a high speed fibre broadband service across 23 counties and available for immediate connection. Construction is underway across 26 counties demonstrating that the project is reaching scale. To date, the level of connections is increasing on a daily basis and is in line with projections with some areas exceeding expectations.

Further details are available on specific areas 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, reps@nbi.ie, which can be used by Oireachtas members for specific queries.

NBI has made recent improvements to their website to enhance the provision of information to Oireachtas members. NBI has now completed a suite of changes, creating a portal that will serve as a means for Oireachtas members to proactively search for information relevant to their county/local area. The portal provides an up-to-date picture of NBI’s deployment schedule across the 227 Deployment Areas (DAs) in all 26 counties. A particular county can be selected to view an update of the overall number of premises in the Intervention Area, the overall NBP investment in the county, the number of premises passed to date and the status of each of the Deployment Areas with the anticipated date for connection over the lifetime of the project. The dedicated webpage can be accessed here: www.nbi.ie/rep.

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. Some 657 BCP sites have been installed by NBI, as of 15 July 2022, 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.

Some 380 schools have been installed by NBI to date 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. Further details of schools in scope are available on the NBI website at https://nbi.ie/primary-schools-list/.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 26/07/2022
Question Number(s): 161 Question Reference(s): 41723/22
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: Matt Carthy T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

[Ref No.: 41723/22]

*  To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the current milestones related the delivery of the National Broadband Plan for which the failure to meet would result in penalties being applied to National Broadband Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Matt Carthy.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 26th July, 2022.

(2660  Received on 19th July, 2022.)

REPLY

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) contains a number of targets and milestones to be completed by NBI in order to deliver the rollout of high-speed broadband services to all premises in the Intervention Area by the end of 2026.

NBI is entitled to claim the payment of relevant subsidy only when contract targets and milestones have been achieved and independently verified. Subsidy payments are therefore held until NBI meets these milestones. Failure to meet these milestones has financial impacts for NBI as the company is not able to draw down subsidy.

The sanctions regime, which came into effect from the start of Contract Year 3 on 1 February 2022, relates to performance levels that NBI is required to meet for both the connection of premises and the operational performance of the network.
Under an Updated Interim Remedial Plan (UIRP) for 2022 concluded between NBI and my Department, a revised target was agreed of 102,000 premises passed by the end of Contract Year 3, i.e. 31 January 2023. The contract provides that sanction provisions relating to delays to delivery of the network are applicable to any delays that occur from 1 February 2022 and will be calculated and imposed in line with the contract and the UIRP.

Sanctions around Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) relating to operational performance levels of NBI, including time to connect premises, minimum upload and download speeds and performance around fault repair are also part of the contract. Should NBI’s performance not be in accordance with the requirements contained within the NBP contract, performance points and consequently performance credits will accrue which will reduce the value of subsidy payments received by NBI.

 

National Broadband Plan rollout continuing to falter

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