The rollout of the National Broadband Plan is six months behind schedule due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, according to the company that is delivering the plan.

National Broadband Ireland has today told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications that despite this set back, they are confident that they will deliver the seven year plan on time - or earlier - and on budget.

Two years into the seven-year plan, the NBI said it now hopes to deliver the plan within a five-year period.

However, it said it will have a better idea of timeframes by the end of this year.

In his opening statement, Peter Hendrick, chief executive of NBI said just over 23,000 premises are currently able to place their order via their preferred retail service provider, out of a total of 540,000 connections it has been contracted to do.

Mr Hendrick said they expect 60,000 premises will be 'passed' by the network by the end of this year, down from an initial target of 115,000.

"The impact of Covid-19 has resulted in the need to introduce extensive mitigation strategies and re-baseline original rollout targets.

"Obviously, the original volume projections were conceived pre-Covid, and could never have predicted or accounted for the operational environment created by the global pandemic," he said.

Answering questions on why the target for this year will be missed, Mr Hendrick said their whole supply chain has been impacted due to Covid-19.

Darren O’Rourke, Sinn Féin TD for Meath East, asked how many houses will be ‘passed’ next year.

TJ Malone, CEO of NBI Deployment said the original target for 2022 was 90,000 homes.

However, he again highlighted that they are running six months behind schedule.

"We will deliver 84,000 homes for next year - we will try to pass that if possible," Mr Malone said.

Senator Gerry Horkan of Fianna Fáil said the delay has been an "enormous frustration" for many people.

Mr Horkan pointed out that less than 5% of the premises have been delivered two years into the plan.

With just 23,000 premises delivered to date, Mr Horkan questioned if the goal of 60,000 by Christmas is a realistic target.

Mr Hendrick said he is confident that the NBI will reach that target.

He said 108,000 premises are under construction with works underway, while over 251,000 premises have been surveyed, of which over 221,000 are designed or are in detailed design.

With half of the entire country surveyed, Mr Hendrick said, "momentum is building".

In response to a question from Independent TD for Tipperary Michael Lowry, Mr Malone of the NBI said there will be no additional cost to the State, as a result of rising costs of building materials.

Under their contract, he said these costs fall to the NBI, and not the State.

He said if materials reduce in cost, the State can recoup some of those costs.

During today's meeting, the NBI was commended by several committee members for its continued engagement to date.