An update from National Broadband Ireland (NBI) about the progress being made in rolling out fibre broadband to homes is ‘a cause of huge concern’, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Communications and Broadband, Ruairí Ó Murchú TD, has said.
The Louth TD received an update from NBI which shows that despite the ‘much reduced’ target of 60,000 homes being passed for broadband by the end of January, just over 40,000 were.
The target for the end of 2022 has once again been reduced to 102,000 from an original target of 205,000.
Teachta Ó Murchú said:
“The update from National Broadband Ireland is a huge cause of concern to me and to those who have put their faith in the rollout of broadband under this scheme.
“The 60,000 target for January was already way below the original target of 115,000, but just 40,053 homes have actually been passed to the end of March this year.
“This is obviously significantly lower than the already low target.
“Pressure has to be maintained by government to ensure that the rollout of broadband continues at as fast a rate as possible.
“The fewer premises that are passed for broadband means the longer the people at the end of the list will have to wait.
“The government talks a lot about remote working and opening hubs for people who wish to work close to home, but they need to ensure this is actually possible by ensuring that broadband is fit for purpose.
“While I accept that there have been difficulties for every sector caused by Covid-19, and while I accept that the way NBI is set up is not what we would have wanted from the start, the government has to take responsibility and ensure that everything possible is being done to ensure that the rollout of the broadband plan is ramped up.
“NBI was meant to have 205,000 homes passed by January 2023. That figure is now down to 102,000 and at the current rate of work, they will not even reach 60,000 this year.
“The government cannot keep making excuses for NBI and telling the public they are financially penalising NBI for not reaching the targets. Neither of these things gets broadband into people’s homes any faster.
“Minister Smyth told my colleague Teachta Darren O’Rourke today that there are penalties being imposed on NBI because of the targets being missed and we need more details on what these are.
“We also need more detail on what NBI says the ongoing issues are that are stalling the project. We are certainly a long way from ‘acceleration’.”