As we reach the end of the year, it is important to reflect on the advances made and recognise the progression in improving Ireland’s broadband infrastructure, particularly with the State’s intervention to provide high speed broadband to rural areas becoming a reality.
Over the past year and a half, our broadband infrastructure has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to continue working and learning through lockdown restrictions and social distancing. Had the pandemic occurred even ten years ago, Ireland’s transition to remote working, service provision, and education would have been far less seamless, perhaps even impossible.
Commercial providers like Eir, SIRO and Virgin Media have recently announced plans to expand and/or upgrade their fibre networks and offer high-speed products to millions of premises across the country – representing an investment of more than €1.8 billion.
The NBP goal of delivering high-quality, reliable high-speed broadband for every remaining home and business in the country, no matter how rural or remote, will ensure that Ireland will be an EU leader in terms of broadband connectivity.
Despite the ongoing challenges associated with Covid-19, particularly in the first half of this year, momentum has been building over the last 6 months with the new high speed broadband network now available to order and pre-order across 14 Counties.
Connections to the NBP network are picking up pace, NBI reaching a significant milestone of over 1,000 homes connected in the month of December alone.
In addition, a number of key milestones have been achieved:
Some 54,000 premises across the country will be able to pre-order or order high-speed broadband by the end of December 2021
More than 230 Broadband Connection Points are live and supporting public access to broadband in some of Ireland's most rural communities
Over 160 schools are live or ready to go live, bringing high-speed service as the new year started and as students and teachers return to the classroom.
Once the fibre rollout is completed, Ireland is set to be the EU leader in providing gigabit fibre-to-the-home broadband coverage.
Continued Momentum in H2 2021
Like many sectors, Covid-19 impacted the rollout of the NBP in the first half of the year. Nevertheless, NBI has picked up the pace in the second half of 2021 and some 54,000 premises will be available for order or pre-order at year end, through Retail Service Providers (RSPs) to connect premises to the high-speed NBP network.
To date, NBI report that over 6,000 kilometres of fibre has been rolled out and almost 25,000 poles have been readied with openeir or newly installed by NBI, across the length and breadth of the State. All has been coordinated by a growing workforce of over 1,200 NBI employees and contractors working across the country – and the pace of delivery continues to pick up. More information can be found on the NBI website here.
As of mid-December 2021, the following numbers of premises are either able to pre-order/order a connection or are already connected to the NBP network – numbers which are growing on a weekly basis:
Some 54,000 premises available for pre-order/order by end December
More than 1,200 orders placed and premises pending connection
Over 4,600 premises connected to the NBP network
Irish artist Paul Galligan from Co. Cavan recently connected his premises to the NBP high-speed network which has opened up his gallery to new opportunities and audiences online.
There are also now 385 farms connected to the network, bringing a reliable service to some of Ireland’s most rural agricultural businesses. High-speed broadband allows farmers to maximise and utilise new technologies, including virtual marts which have been critical to business continuity during Covid-19.
You can keep up to date with the latest connections stories via NBI’s YouTube channel.
As of mid-December 2021, the following numbers of premises are either within survey, design, build or order phases of the rollout:
282,000 premises surveyed
232,000 designs received
150,000 premises with construction started
Fibre build works are picking up pace, with construction underway or completed for 150,000 premises across all 26 Counties.
You can find out more about Deployment Areas and timelines for completion on the NBI website here.
Please note, all dates provided are estimated based on NBI’s current view but may be subject to change in the future.
NBI has made significant improvements to their website, providing interactive maps and information on when homeowners, businesses, farms and community groups can expect to access the NBP network.
The website gives the best information that NBI has available across the full seven years of the contract duration as it stands today. By giving greater clarity on estimated surveying and connection timelines, citizens will be able to make shorter-term decisions on where they live and work knowing that high-speed broadband will soon be available to them across the country.
For people who will be waiting until the later years of the network build for a connection, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) recognises that today, they are more likely to be concerned about the timeline to get connected to a reliable broadband service, than to the very high speeds that will be available over the NBP network.
Over time, however, the future proofing nature of the project will ensure that people living in the intervention area do not find themselves on the wrong side of a digital divide again.
NBI have also rolled out a series of public information days across the country, which have provided further opportunity for public engagement with the project and giving consumers the chance to speak directly to the NBI support team about their connection status.
Supporting the connection process and ensuring a strong consumer engagement approach, National Broadband Ireland’s (NBI) Contact Centre continues to provide a responsive and quality service for broadband consumers, with 90% of emails being responded to within 24 hours.
DECC has also taken steps to enhance its consumer contact service, introducing a designated web form for individuals to contact the Department with issues around high-speed broadband provision at their premises.
46 Retail Service Providers (RSPs) will be offering services on the NBP network to customers across Ireland, creating greater choice and value in the market as well as ensuring the same competitive broadband packages to consumers nationwide – both in rural and urban areas.
Currently, 30 RSPs are actively selling on the NBP Network with almost 35,000 premises across 14 Counties (Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Wexford, Wicklow) now able to order and pre-order high-speed connections.
You can find out more about getting connected and the RSPs set up and certified to sell network services on the NBP network here.
Broadband Connection Points
Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) provide wireless connectivity, to support remote working and connected communities by providing public access to free high-speed broadband in advance of the main fibre deployment under the National Broadband Plan.
In the second half of this year, Minister of State Ossian Smyth had the opportunity to visit BCPs in Counties Limerick, Clare and Wicklow to see how local people and businesses are already benefiting from these community-based services and to understand the progress being made with the wider fibre rollout.
The Minister also paid a visit to the KN Circet Training Academy in Dublin, where he had the opportunity to experience the real-life simulations that KN Circet – one of NBI’s key partners in the build of the NBP network - undertake as part of their training process, before workers are deployed into the field.
Since our Summer update, a further 30 public BCPs have gone live across Counties Carlow, Galway, Limerick, Meath, Sligo, and Wicklow, bringing high-speed broadband one step closer to local citizens, businesses and visitors to these areas.
More widely, as of mid-December 2021:
262 BCPs have been installed by NBI and are ready for connection
234 BCPs are live on the high-speed network
679 National Schools in the intervention area will be connected to high-speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan, supported by the Department of Education and Skills.
NBI’s ambition is to pass all national schools by end of 2022, in line with the Government’s commitment to ensure schools have access to much needed broadband services.
In the last six months, a further 28 schools have gone live and over 160 schools are now ready to connect through an RSP.
As of mid-December 2021:
168 schools have been installed by NBI and are ready for connection
99 of the 168 schools are live on the high-speed network
Looking ahead to 2022
As the project continues to roll out across the country, NBI are working to finalise their projected build programme and timelines for next year.
This will see more homes, businesses and farms across all Counties in Ireland have the ability to avail of connection to the NBP network in 2022.
Our broadband infrastructure must work reliably and equitably not just for 2021, but for 2051 and beyond.
Queries on availability in your area
The Blue area on the NBP map represents areas already covered by commercial operators providing high speed broadband services.
The intervention area of the NBP (seen in Amber) is a dynamic area that is subject to review by the DECC, should the broadband services on offer not meet the 30Mbps broadband standard.
Any consumer in a Blue area who is experiencing difficulties in obtaining high speed broadband - that is defined as minimum speeds of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload – should contact their broadband service provider to investigate the issue and to determine the reason why broadband speeds are slow or that service cannot be provided.
Further details on the rollout and NBI activity are available through the NBI website.