National Broadband Plan customers to get download speed boost

Company delivering €3bn plan triples minimum download speed to 500mbps


National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company contracted to deliver the €3 billion plan to provide broadband to areas without services, has said customers will receive download speeds that are considerably faster than originally envisaged.

The company originally committed to providing minimum download speeds of 150 megabits per second. It said on Friday it would provide speeds of 500mbps once the network is live.

In addition, businesses and residential users will also be able to avail of a 1 gigabit per second product once work is completed.

The company is to commence with the network build this month, having signed contracts with the Government last November.

The Irish Times reported earlier this week that a redacted version of that contract is to be published on the Department of Communications website shortly, some nine months after the Government signed off on the controversial agreement.

Despite a promise by then minister for communications Richard Bruton to TD Catherine Murphy to publish the contract weeks after it was first signed, the Department of Communications has so far held back from issuing details of the deal. A spokesman said on Wednesday that it now intended to publish a redacted version “in the coming weeks”.

NBI was awarded the multibillion-euro State contract to roll out broadband to 540,000 homes and businesses after Eir and Siro withdrew from the competition.

The company said recently that up to 10,000 homes would be brought into the network by the end of 2020, while it would have “detailed design plans” for an additional 108,000, equating to 20 per cent of 540,000 households covered by the project.

The target was to pass 115,000 premises by the end of next year, with 70,000-120,000 passed each year thereafter until the rollout is complete. But a briefing note recently prepared for Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan indicates the rollout has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

NBI is investing €223 million in equity and working capital as part of its initial funding of the project, while the State subsidy is capped at €2.97 billion.