Fewer than 900 premises out of more than 79,000 homes and businesses in Cork have been connected under the National Broadband Plan (NBP), according to the latest official figures.
Junior Minister at the Department of Communications Ossian Smyth told Cork South-West TD Holly Cairns in reply to a parliamentary question that of 540,000 premises that came under the plan’s remit nationally, there are 79,669 in Cork.
That means 29% of homes and businesses in Cork fall under the NBP, Mr Smyth said.
In reply to Ms Cairns, Mr Smyth said in Cork, “871 premises have now been passed by the NBI high-speed broadband network in Carrigaline”.
He said NBI anticipates remaining premises in Carrigaline will be able to connect to the network in July, and will be able to connect via retail service providers.
Carrigaline is a major part of the constituency of Taoiseach Micheál Martin, and Ministers Michael McGrath and Simon Coveney.
As of June 10, 225,000 of the 544,000 premises nationally have been “surveyed” by National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the firm tasked with carrying out the long-mooted plan.
The premises that need to be covered include homes, farms, commercial businesses and schools, according to NBI.
Surveying means mapping out how every home and business will be connected, NBI said in January.
Mr Smyth said: “In Co Cork, premises have been surveyed or surveys are ongoing in the areas of Midtoton, Cullen, Templebreedy, Carrigaline, Ballyfoyle, Douglas, Ballyphehane, Glasheen, Mahon, Kilpatrick, Ballydesmond, Kiskeam, Umeraboy, Knocknagree, Rineen, Cullen, Coolinarna, Millstreet, Hollymount and Caherbarnagh.”
Main works are ongoing in Carrigaline, Fountainstown, Ballinhassig, Monkstown, and Upper Rochestown, while pre-build works are ongoing in Midleton, he added.
Nearly 4,400 homes are available for connection in both Cork and Cavan, Mr Smyth said.
A further 15,000 premises can also pre-order via retail service providers in Cork, Cavan, Galway and Limerick and get a connection in the coming months, he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has considerably slowed the progress of the plan, Government ministers conceded in recent months.
Survey work involves physically walking the routes where fibre will be laid, according to NBI – made much more difficult with pandemic restrictions in place over the past year.
The NBP has been beset by problems since it was first mooted in 2012 by the then Fine Gael-Labour coalition.
A number of firms entered the tendering process to be granted the contract to design the programme, but a decision was delayed multiple times.
Eir followed Siro, a joint venture between Vodafone and the ESB, in pulling out, tiring of the drawn-out process.
It eventually went to a consortium that formed NBI, spearheaded by Granahan McCourt.
Estimated €500m costs initially ballooned to €3bn by the time the contract was signed after the protracted tendering process.
NBI said this month that 1,000 people have been employed on the overall project so far, and that it expect that number to rise to 1,800 over the lifetime of the plan.