By Dominic McGrath, PA
The National Broadband Plan can be delivered on time despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, an Oireachtas committee has heard.
Peter Hendrick, chief executive of National Broadband Ireland, told TDs and senators on Wednesday that he believes the project can be completed on time or earlier.
“We believe that despite the extreme and turbulent conditions faced throughout the past 19 months due to Covid-19, the work of our team provides a platform and gives us confidence to deliver the project on time, or earlier, and on budget,” Mr Hendrick told the Oireachtas Transport and Communications committee.
He acknowledged that the pandemic had disrupted work on the project.
“The extreme number of Covid-19 cases at the start of 2021 made it impossible to predict certain elements of the rollout progress during that period and added significant risk to the programme.
“This was not just a factor felt by NBI, but the pressure was across every one of our subcontractors and other partners. During this second wave, the impact was arguably felt more severely than the first wave due to where we were at in our mobilisation plan,” he said.
Mr Hendrick assured the committee that “where we were affected by Covid-19, we have already recovered and are ahead of the plan”.
He said the team had been as “frustrated as anyone” with the disruption caused by the pandemic.
He added that the company had to change its plans in April and will now be targeting 60,000 premises by the end of this year, down from an original target of 115,000.
The company is responsible for building and operating Ireland’s high-speed broadband network.
The committee chairman, Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, said the issue is “top of the agenda” for many people.