The CEO of National Broadband Ireland has said that rolling out the Government’s National Broadband Plan is about "doing away with the rural digital divide forever".

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Business, Peter Hendrick said he is "very confident" the plan can be delivered and that he expects NBI will sign the contract in mid-September.

When asked about the criticism levelled at the plan by Robert Watt, a senior civil servant at the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Hendrick said that the Department has a difficult job to do and that when they have concerns they should bring them forward.

However, he said this issue had to be looked at in a "broader context than simply a cost benefit analysis" and the "broader benefits and future proofing of the economy".

Mr Hendrick said that the price for consumers for using broadband will be the same in rural Ireland as it is in urban areas.

He said that NBI would sell broadband to retail operators, and that customers will then buy services from these internet service providers.

In terms of the roll out timeline, Mr Hendrick said that every county in the country will have access to one element of the broadband plan.

He said that "broadband community points" or digital hubs will be set up in each county and people would be able to access wifi and work remotely from these points.

In year two, more than 130,000 homes and premises will have access to broadband, and every year after it will expand to a further 70,000 to 100,000 premises, Mr Hendrick said.

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