DECC issues update on National Broadband Plan progress

8 Dec 2020

Ireland’s Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has released an update detailing the progress on the country’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), under which the state has committed to ensuring all citizens have access to high speed broadband.

In its update, the DECC said that National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company tasked with delivering the NBP, has made ‘significant progress’ in 2020. According to the government department NBI subcontractors are currently surveying fibre routes to assess whether existing poles can be used, assessing underground ducting and the extent of tree trimming required to avoid disturbance of the fibre cables as they are placed on overhead poles. With regards to progress in this area, as of 23 November 2020 more than 136,000 premises across 26 counties were said to have been surveyed, ahead of a full year survey target of 120,000.

Meanwhile, work on the deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure was confirmed to have gotten underway in several areas, namely: Carrigaline, Fountainstown, Ballinhassig, Monkstown, and Upper Rochestown (in the county of Cork); ranmore, Clarinbridge, Claregalway, Furbo and Barna (Galway); Ballinagh, Corlurgan, Araghan, Poles, and Caughoo (Cavan); townlands outside Limerick City including Mungret, Patrickswell, Crecora, Castleconnell and Caherconlish (Limerick); and areas around Ballinasloe such as Kiltomer, Oatfield, Annagh, Kilconnell, and Ahascragh (Galway).

Almost 8,000 premises are targeted to be passed with fibre and connectable to a broadband service by the end of the first year of the NBP Contract (i.e. 31 January 2021), while a pilot test and trial phase for connections will run between this month and next month in Carrigaline, County Cork. ISPs are expected to be able to provide services directly to customers ‘early in 2021’.

Also of note, Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) will reportedly be used to provide connectivity and help communities to quickly access free public high speed broadband in advance of the main deployment under the NBP. Planned BCP locations were identified by local authorities and include schools, library hubs, and local sports facilities. According to the DECC, the BCP delivery project is ‘now well underway’, with connectivity being provided to each of the sites by NBI. NBI has installed equipment at 201 locations to facilitate BCPs for public access Wi-Fi. Vodafone Ireland is, meanwhile, said to be enabling these buildings with the necessary indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi under a contract with the Department of Rural and Community Development. As of mid-November, 59 BCPs had been connected by Vodafone Ireland.