December 11 2019
Seán Canney T.D., Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, today welcomed the publication of the third progress report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce.
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce is made up of senior officials from a number of Government Departments, Regulators and local Government and engages with representatives of the telecommunications industry.
Chaired by Minister Canney, the Taskforce was established to identify and address barriers to improved mobile phone and broadband services in areas with poor connectivity ahead of the roll out of the National Broadband Plan.
Addressing the Taskforce at its Q3 meeting on 20th November, the Minister said:
"19th November was a very important day. The Government signed the National Broadband Plan contract and set in motion the very programme that we have been preparing for these last three years. It has been a long time coming and I am fully aware of the amount of work that has been completed by this group so far.
We have more work to do. The signing of the contract is not an end point, it is the beginning of the most exciting journey rural Ireland will take in a generation and so I ask you to recommit yourselves to the Taskforce's mission. Take another step forward. Innovate more. Remind yourself of what we were tasked with achieving and make it happen."
While much of the Taskforce's work over the preceding three years has been concerned with removing barriers to telecommunications deployment by examining policies and practices, a significant proportion of its work has also had immediate and practical impacts, such as the work undertaken by ComReg to include mobile handset testing; development of an online price comparison tool and an outdoor mobile phone coverage map. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has laid more than 1,000KM of underground fibre-optic ducting along the national roads network which can facilitate a nationwide high-speed broadband network. Telecoms operators have introduced a number of measures to enable better use of existing telecommunications infrastructure, such as sharing masts and ducting.
Additionally, new guidelines published by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) will ensure that certain marketing terms used by mobile phone and broadband companies, such as 'up-to speeds', are used accurately and consistently by all operators. This will further support consumers in making informed choices.
Commenting on the level of co-operation shown by Taskforce members, Minister Canney added:
"It is fair to say that the achievements of this Taskforce will ensure that the connectivity that rural Ireland wants, needs and is entitled to, will arrive sooner. It is also fair to say that you have all approached this work with great enthusiasm and dedication; that you have proven your commitment to our communities and that you have shown that when we work together we can get the job done.
When I reflect on my time chairing this Taskforce, it is with a sense that every one of you were, and remain, genuinely committed to making things better for the people of rural Ireland, and for that I commend you."
While the work of the Taskforce continues with a number of actions still to complete, focus is shifting to what form the Taskforce will take now that the NBP contract has been signed. It is broadly agreed that the structure and membership of the Taskforce has been particularly effective, bringing together all of the key players from across Government, Regulators and industry, allowing for collaboration and open discussion.
Notes to the editor:
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce is made up of senior officials from a number of Government Departments, Regulators, Statutory Agencies and Local Government and engages with representatives of the telecommunications industry.
Chaired by Seán Canney T.D., Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, the Taskforce was established to identify and address barriers to improved mobile phone and broadband services in areas with poor connectivity ahead of the roll out of the National Broadband Plan.
The organisations represented in the Taskforce are:
- Department of Rural and Community Development
- Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
- Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
- Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
- Local Government Management Agency
- Transport Infrastructure Ireland
- County and City Management Association
- Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg)
- Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland
- ESB Networks
- Office of Public Works
The work of the Taskforce is supported by ongoing engagement with Ibec on behalf of the Telecommunications Industry.
Quarterly and Annual Reports of the Taskforce can be found here.