The National Broadband Plan fined €157,000 for delays in rollout

National Broadband Ireland has imposed fines and penalties of €157,000 for delays in rolling out the National Broadband Plan, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) has found.

BI also faces other penalties, the watchdog says, under performance monitoring criteria currently being evaluated by the Department of Communications.

Because of the delays in implementation, NBI has received less than half of the total government subsidy it anticipated based on the program’s original projections. In total, it received a total of 177.2 million euros by the end of 2021, which is 48 percent of the budget estimated for this period.

When the seven-year rollout in 562,000 rural buildings across the country is complete, the total subsidy to be paid to NBI could reach €2.7 billion, including a €500 million emergency fund.

Last week, NBI announced that the rollout had “passed” 80,000 buildings, including 7,000 farms, with 19,537 of those buildings subscribing to broadband service.

However, this falls well short of the original rollout plan, which was targeting 115,000 passes by last January.

The NBI has blamed Covid-related work disruption for the majority of delays in rollout.

However, C&AG found that usage of the service in areas where fiber optic broadband technology has been rolled out is well above expectations. The watchdog said that while initial intake should have been around 16 percent, actual intake was around 24 percent.

“Although actual occupancy is lower than estimated through the end of January 2022, the occupancy rate – the ratio of connected premises to surrendered premises – exceeds initial estimates,” the report reads.

“The Department [of Communications] also noted that one of the existing providers is planning to switch off the existing copper network services once the NBI fiber network is rolled out, which will significantly increase demand as many consumers will then have fewer opportunities to use services.”

NBI has internally projected that by the end of the 25-year contract term, usage of available broadband service will reach 80 percent for homes and higher usage rates for business customers.

The company’s latest figures for homes connected to the network are 19,537. The National Broadband Plan fined €157,000 for delays in rollout

Fry Electronics Team

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