National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company working to deliver the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) which will address the country’s digital divide, has announced that surveying works in several areas of Waterford are well underway.
NBI contractors have been on the ground for eight months, and over 120,000 premises nationwide have been surveyed to date. This involves physically walking the routes and documenting images, notes and measurements of the poles, cables and underground ducts in each area. This will enable network design solutions for the provision of a fibre network to every premises in the Intervention Area – a map of 544,000 premises nationwide identified by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communication (DECC) - as not being served with adequate broadband speeds.
In Waterford, there are 15,000 premises in the Intervention Area (IA), which includes homes, farms, commercial businesses and school. This equates to 24% of all premises in the county. Under the NBP, Waterford will see an investment of €59 million in the new high speed fibre network. This will enable e-learning, remote monitoring of livestock or equipment, e-health initiatives, better energy efficiency in the home, and more remote working.
In Waterford, the following areas are among the first to be surveyed: Cheekpoint, Waterford City, Passage East, Kilmeaden, Dunmore East and Tramore. All NBI contractors will carry official ID and essential worker letters and have received training on adhering to all Covid-19 guidelines. They will have vehicles, PPE and signage with both their own and NBI logos.
Broadband Connection Points (BCPs)
Phase One of the NBP sees the delivery of BCPs nationwide. Over 60 of these sites are now ‘live’ and have both internal and external broadband access. These facilities, which include GAA clubs, community centres and tourist sites, will provide free public access to high speed internet in the rollout area. Up to 300 of these will be available within the next six months. In Waterford, some BCPs include Knockanore, KIilbrien and Ballysaggart Community Centres.
These will pave the way for rural communities to receive the benefits of broadband, from mobile working e-learning and mobile banking to digital tourism. Primary schools in the IA are also being connected for educational access as part of the NBP and the first among these in Waterford are Faithlegg, Fenor and Ballycurrane National Schools.
Progress on the ground
NBI chief executive Peter Hendrick said the company was pleased with the progress being made. “We started physical work on the ground in January and I am delighted to report that this is going very well. We are acutely aware that people want access to high speed broadband as soon as possible, and our goal is to deliver that," he said.
“Survey designs are an important part of mapping out how every home and business will be connected, and these will provide the blueprint for how the NBI fibre is laid. The BCPs are a key milestone in delivering access to high speed internet in the IA, and we’re delighted to see these being connected for access – internally and externally - right across the county.”
Further Deployment Details
It is anticipated that up to 115,000 premises nationwide will be passed and available for connection the new high-speed fibre network by the end of 2021. In 2022, NBI will continue to ramp up its design and build activities, with two thirds of all premises being designed by the end of that year. At least one in three premises in the rollout area will have access to limitless future-proofed high-speed FTTH (Fibre to the Home) broadband by then.
NBI’s website has a search tool to enable the public to check whether their premises is within the rollout area, and to show indicative dates for areas being surveyed. Detailed designs for the fibre area network are drawn up following these. The network build has started in parts of Cavan, Cork, Galway and Limerick, and some connections are expected by end of this year.
There are 227 deployment areas’ nationwide across 26 counties where the fibre works will take place. As the NBP is a large scale critical nationwide project, it will take up to seven years to survey, design and lay fibre in all of these areas but the company are working with the Government to try and expedite the rollout.