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Ministers Co-chair first meeting of Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce

Joint Ministerial Statement: The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Ministers Co-chair first meeting of Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce.

 

July 27th 2016

 

Minister Denis Naughten TD and Minister Heather Humphreys TD have today (Wednesday, July 27th 2016) co-chaired the first meeting of the Taskforce on Mobile Phone and Broadband Access.  The establishment of the Taskforce was a 100 day commitment under the Programme for a Partnership Government and complements the work of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) which is a priority for Government.

 

Recognising the frustration being expressed by consumers in relation to broadband and mobile voice issues, and the fact that it will take time to rollout services under the NBP contract(s), the Taskforce will look at immediate solutions to broadband/mobile phone coverage deficits by identifying practical measures to accelerate the rollout of telecoms infrastructure ahead of the rollout of the National Broadband Plan in 2017. 

 

Minister Denis Naughten commented: "The establishment of the Taskforce was a 100 day commitment and it has commenced its work on day 82 of this Government.  Today's meeting was productive and  I am confident that the Taskforce will deliver on a work programme that will see immediate solutions to the broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and alleviate some of the difficulties being felt by families, businesses and the young and older people across rural Ireland.  The Taskforce has been organised as a complementary measure to the NBP intervention in order to alleviate those deficits, particularly in rural Ireland, prior to the commencement of the full build and rollout of the NBP in June 2017.  I have recently signed into law a Statutory Instrument which transposes an EU Directive on the Cost of Broadband. The SI is now published and it obliges operators of utility networks such as telecommunications, electricity, gas, transport and waste water to share information about their infrastructure with providers of high speed broadband networks. It also allows access to these networks unless there are objective reasons why they can't e.g. safety, continuity of the principal utility services.  Another SI is expected over the coming months which will require developers to install telecommunications service ducts when constructing new buildings which will include office blocks, apartments, industrial estates and one-off houses."

 

Minister Humphreys further commented: "As Minster with responsibility for the revitalisation of rural Ireland, I intend to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays to the rollout of broadband to rural communities which is essential to their future economic prosperity and social development.  I look forward to working with the Taskforce and the Telecoms industry over the coming months to remove some of barriers that currently exist and deliver tangible improvements in mobile and 4G coverage in the short term. In tandem with this, I will be working with all of the Local Authorities to eliminate delay factors, such as planning and ducting, so towns and villages are broadband ready when the State contract is signed in Summer 2017."

 

As part of its work programme, the Taskforce will engage proactively with the telecoms industry in order to identify and address barriers to telecoms deployment and deliver solutions that will help accelerate developments in the short, medium and long term.

The Taskforce is expected to report to Government by the end of the year with an action plan that identifies practical measures to accelerate the rollout of telecoms infrastructure in advance and in tandem with the NBP intervention.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The high level objective for the Taskforce is to identify and recommend actions to improve mobile and broadband access pending the rollout of the National Broadband Plan in 2017.  In consultation with other Government Departments, ComReg, state agencies, industry and other key stakeholders, the Taskforce will identify the actions which will alleviate barriers to improved mobile reception and broadband access, particularly in rural communities.

 

The Taskforce will set up structures to consult and engage with telecoms industry representatives in order to establish barriers to infrastructure and service deployment and identify solutions which can be implemented in the short, medium and long term.

 

The Taskforce will complement the National Broadband Plan by assisting in accelerating the commercial rollout of telecoms infrastructure, and ultimately in the rollout of the network planned under the National Broadband Plan. The procurement process which is underway under the National Broadband Plan will continue in parallel with the Taskforce. It is expected that the work of the Taskforce and Local Broadband Action Groups will also assist Local Authorities in preparing for the rollout of the new NBP network once contract(s) are in place in 2017. 

 

The Membership of the Taskforce is as follows:

  • The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
  • The Department of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs
  • The Department of Housing and Local Government
  • The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
  • The Office of Public Works
  • NewERA
  • Transport Infrastructure Ireland
  • Teagasc
  • Trinity College CCTV (Telecommunications Research Centre)
  • The City and Council Managers Association (CCMA)
  • Irish Rural Link
  • The Irish Country Women's Association
  • Business Representatives based in rural Ireland
  • The National Competition and Consumer Protection Commission
  • An Independent Planning Adviser
  • The Commission for Communications Regulation is participating on the Taskforce as an observer in order to provide advice and guidance in its capacity as the independent Telecommunications Regulator. 

Note:  Statutory Instrument Transposing Directive 2014/61/EU to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks signed by Minister Denis Naughten TD. Published July 27th 2016

  • Obliges operators of utility networks such as telecommunications, electricity, gas, transport and waste water to share information about their infrastructure with providers of high speed broadband networks, and to allow access to these networks unless there are objective reasons why they can't e.g. safety, continuity of the principal utility services, 
  • Allows access by telecommunications providers to service ducts in apartment complexes or multi-unit developments, unless there are objective reasons not to provide such access e.g. capacity, security of other services already installed etc.
  • Obliges roads authorities to make decisions on permits to install telecommunications lines below, on or above public roads, within 4 months or receiving all of the information they require from the industry applicant (This does not apply to telephone exchanges or mobile masts – only to poles, wires and underground cables). If a decision is not made within 4 months of all the information being provided, the decision is deemed as "made" under the SI.
  • Establishes ComReg as a dispute settlement body if network operators cannot agree to share networks, or cannot agree the terms and conditions for sharing networks.
  • A further SI is expected over the coming months which will require developers to install telecommunications service ducts when constructing new buildings which will include office blocks, apartments, industrial estates  and one-off houses. This is currently being discussed with the Department of Housing and Local Government as to how best to implement this provision of the Directive, which is due to come into force for all Planning Applications submitted after 1 January 2017.

    ENDS

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