The National Broadband Plan (NBP) will see high-speed internet capabilities rolled out to some 54,000 farms by December 2026, despite the challenges faced in the early stages of the project, the CEO of National Broadband Ireland (NBI) Peter Hendrick has said.

“54,000 farms will have the ability to connect to the NBP network at the end of 2026 and ultimately it’s about take-up. It’s about their demand for wanting to connect to the network,” Hendrick told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“We see that demand as being high and it’s something that we will meet that demand,” he said.

The NBP has set a target of connecting 554,000 premises in total by the end of the programme in 2026.

Of this figure, only 62,313 premises had reached the final stages of building involving the installation of fibre by 4 February.

NBI has said that this number may appear low but that the rate of completion will accelerate, as information connection exchanges had been required for construction in the early stages of the project before connectivity could be rolled out.


Disruptions to the rollout have come from COVID-19 staffing difficulties and delays in the granting of permission by local authorities, the NBI head explained.

Work stoppages while NBI awaits the granting of planning for the installation of ESB poles has now been averted for the most part, with a common framework now in place for the procedure across all local authorities, the firm claimed.

Farms within designated sites may face some further delays

Farms within designated sites may face some further delays, however, as this planning framework has not been extended to include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Special Protected Areas (SPAs).

A partial derogation from the closed hedge-cutting season in 2021 had also been secured by NBI, allowing preparatory works for the installation of ESB poles and overhead lines to continue beyond the end of February, the firm’s head of deployment TJ Malone said.

Trimming of trees

Trees were permitted to be trimmed where they would interfere with the erection of cable only after each tree had been cleared by an on-site ecologist, he said.

The variation in the quality of the telecommunications infrastructure across counties is “pretty average”, Hendrick told the Irish Farmers Journal, with no significant differences in the state of above- or below-ground wiring networks seen across county borders.

Public funds

Incentives have been put in place to ensure public funds - €178m of which were received by NBI in 2021 – are used in a cost-effective manner and in-line with EU State Aid rules, the broadband chief said.

Hendrick confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that to date, the per connection cost of rolling out the plan had been in-line with the target set to be reached by the end of the plan.

This has given the firm “confidence” that the plan would reach its targets within budget, as the per connection cost was likely to decrease as the project progressed.

Any saving on projected costs which NBI had achieved after incurring risk would be partly shared between the Department of Communications and the company.

However, any savings made on estimations on the pubic expenditure end of the project – on ESB poles or material costs for example - would be fully granted to the Department, Hendrick explained.