Up to €217.5m earmarked for National Broadband Plan

Budget 2023: Some 75,000 homes now have access to fibre broadband, says Minister for Public Expenditure

The Government has allocated €217.5 million for the rollout of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) as part of Budget 2023, down slightly from the €225 million earmarked for the project this year.

Including the money allocated for the NBP, the Government on Tuesday announced funding of €273 million to support connectivity and communications in Budget 2023. The total figure includes €7.5 million allocated to the National Cyber Security Centre to bring staffing numbers up to 63 by the end of next year from 25 in 2021.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that an additional 11,000 households have been passed with fibre cable as part of the national broadband rollout since July, bringing to 75,000 the total number of Irish homes with access to broadband.

The controversial rollout has been beset by delays and last April it was estimated that the plan’s implementation was as much as six months behind schedule.

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The original target of 205,000 premises passed by the end of January 2023 was revised downwards to 102,000 in an agreement between the Government and National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company building the network.

However, the Oireachtas committee on communications was told in late June that the rollout is now a month ahead of expectations in reaching the revised 102,000 target and NBI is confident in reaching that number before the end of the year. In an update on the project in July, the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications said that at that stage, 64,000 premises had been passed by the NBI Network with build works under way in all 26 counties across the country.

On Tuesday, Mr McGrath said the €217.5 million funding has been allocated in an effort to reach the Government’s target for up to 185,000 households to have access by the end of next year.

In a statement, Minister of State with responsibility for communications and circular economy, Ossian Smyth said: “The additional funding for connectivity and communications will enable us to continue the rollout of high-speed broadband to every home in the country, and to strengthen our defences against serious national cyber incidents.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times