The rollout of the National Broadband Plan is running eight months behind schedule Galway TD Denis Naughten has said.
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Naughten said that the admission that the NBP is running well later than expected was “buried” in the documentation for the budget released on
This is two months further behind the timeline that was indicated in information given to the Oireachtas Communications Committee by the contractor last month, he added.
“In reality this means that 75,000 less homes will have access to the high-speed broadband network at the end of next year than was planned when the contract was signed in November 2019.”
He said that it “does not hold up to examination” to say that these delays are due to COVID, as the works involved are outdoors, and contractors were designated as essential workers.
“Clearly there are other bottlenecks in the delivery of this vital project to rural Ireland which are not being publicly disclosed, and we need to ask why,” Denis Naughten said.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar acknowledged that there has been a delay in the National Broadband Plan, but that the contractor will try to “regain lost ground” in the coming years after multiple issues.
“There were issues with COVID and delays in getting the necessary licences for poles and ducts from local authorities.”
He added that even though the contractors were essential workers, allowed to work during the pandemic, National Broadband Ireland still had difficulty getting staff.
“I understand that quite a number were being recruited from overseas and issues like the travel restrictions made that difficult.”
Budget 2022 announced this week includes €225 million for the ongoing rollout of the National Broadband Plan under the existing contract.
Government figures state that approximately 60,000 homes will be connected to high-speed broadband by the end of this year, with 130,000 expected to be hooked up by end of 2022.
On top of bringing fibre broadband to people’s homes, close to 700 primary schools are also expected to be receive high speed internet by the end of the year.