Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce reports on achievements to date and sets out goals for 2019
Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs & Digital Development, today (20th February) welcomed the publication of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review 2018. The Taskforce, chaired by Minister Canney, was established in 2016 to identify and overcome obstacles to mobile phone and broadband services and engages with telecoms operators. The Taskforce is made up of officials from several Government Departments and agencies and representatives from the local government sector.
Speaking about the Taskforce's work, Minister Canney said: "The issues affecting mobile phone and broadband connectivity are wide-ranging and complex, requiring a coordinated and collaborative approach. The Taskforce works across government and with interested parties to effect real change. It shines a spotlight on policies and practices and asks 'is this still necessary; can this be done differently to improve services to the end user?'
"Taskforce members have delivered on their commitments in relation to the 2018 work programme. Transport Infrastructure Ireland have established almost one thousand kilometres of cable ducting along our national roads and motorways, ensuring that the fibre-optic spine needed to push broadband services out to all of our citizens is possible.
"ComReg, the communications regulator, have made it possible for people to use mobile phone repeaters in their homes. This means that people will be able to receive improved mobile phone signals in their homes. Local Authorities have radically revised the way applications for public works are dealt with, allowing telecoms infrastructure to be built appropriately where and when it is needed without compromising their role in protecting the safety and interests of residents.
"Telecoms operators have undertaken a significant programme of investment and development, trialling new technologies, like wifi calling, and building new infrastructure in areas of most need."
Commenting on the Taskforce's work programme for 2019, Minister Canney stated: "The Taskforce, now in its third year continues to grow. This year the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the ESB will become members, adding their expertise and influence and advancing the Taskforce's work."
The Minister continued: "2019 will be a great year for improvements to broadband and mobile phone coverage, and many of the developments will be driven by the Taskforce. The Taskforce's 2019 work programme includes a number of initiatives that will see an unprecedented level of cross governmental collaboration and cooperation with telecoms operators to improve services to customers. The Department of Rural and Community Development will drive the deployment of free public wifi across the country, ensuring citizens in villages, towns and cities have access to the digital economy.
"I am very proud of the work that the Taskforce has done so far and I'm very excited about the work we have planned for 2019."
Notes to Editor:
The Programme for a Partnership Government gave a commitment to establish a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to identify solutions to broadband/mobile phone coverage deficits and to investigate how better services could be provided to consumers prior to full build and rollout of the network planned under the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State Intervention. The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established in July 2016 arising from this commitment.
The Taskforce published a report in December 2016 with 40 actions to be taken to improve mobile phone and broadband coverage. All of the actions that the Taskforce identified targeted specific issues that had been raised by stakeholders or identified through the work of the Taskforce. In addition, many addressed underlying issues that are of fundamental importance to the ability of the telecommunication operators to deliver improved services, particularly in rural areas.
Now in its third year of operation, the Taskforce continues to focus on issues that are negatively impacting upon the rollout of essential telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas through an annual work programme. The Taskforce publishes quarterly reports on progress made. The 2018 review of the Taskforce's work, which has been published by Minister Canney, provides an overview of progress made in respect of the 2018 work programme. All reports are available on: www.drcd.gov.ie or www.dccae.gov.ie.