Strong progress is being made in removing barriers and enhancing benefits to consumers
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten, T.D., and Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring, T.D., today (20 July) published the second Progress Report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. The report outlines the progress made on actions aimed at accelerating the delivery of telecommunications infrastructure.
Commenting on the report, Minister Naughten said: “The frustration felt by people, particularly in rural Ireland, over poor mobile phone coverage and blackspots is something I am very conscious of. It is being tackled by the Taskforce and today’s Report outlines the work that is being done to date across the country. Telecoms operators are now providing details of their network coverage to local authorities to identify blackspots and develop plans to fix them. There is now a Broadband Officer as a single point of contact for the public and telecoms operators in each local authority which is key to overcoming obstacles quickly. This critical work will result in better services across the board, particularly for people living in rural Ireland.”
Minister Ring said: “The close collaboration and information sharing by the members of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Implementation Group is bringing about tangible results in identifying solutions to issues impacting on mobile phone and broadband access in rural Ireland. In particular, the engagement between the telecoms operators and the Broadband Officers in each local authority is already having a hugely positive impact on removing barriers to the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure. As we move forward, this relationship will be of increasing importance to ensure improved broadband and mobile phone services are available to the people of rural Ireland.”
Some key measures which have been progressed during Quarter 2 include:
- Telecoms operators have put in place nominated points of contact within their organisations. In conjunction with the Broadband Officers appointed by all local authorities, these structures are streamlining and improving engagement and assisting in removing impediments to the rollout of telecoms infrastructure.
- Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the telecoms industry have been working closely on identifying suitable sites on the motorway network for the locating of telecoms infrastructure in order to improve mobile coverage.
- The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) has published the latest version of the Guidelines for Managing Openings in Public Roads (Purple Book). The revised guidelines will assist in improving the future management by local authorities, of road works required to support telecommunications infrastructure and utility providers.
- DTTAS has established a Road Openings Monitoring Committee which will play a strong role in overseeing the road opening licensing system, in addition to addressing wider issues impacting on the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure and utility works.
- The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and the Department of Rural and Community Development are working with mobile operators and a number of local authorities on a pilot project to identify specific mobile phone blackspots areas, ascertain why these issues are arising, and identify solutions to improve the coverage in the area.
- Transport Infrastructure Ireland has completed works on the installation of ducting on the N25 in Cork between Little Island and Middleton totalling 13km, and works on the remaining parts of the route are ongoing. This will enable telecoms operators to install necessary equipment to facilitate the rollout of telecommunication services.
- ComReg is undertaking research on the feasibility of using and licensing mobile phone repeaters to overcome the problem of poor indoor signal quality, particularly in rural areas.
- ComReg is also working on compiling a five year forecast report which will provide information on mobile data volumes and speeds and fixed broadband connections and speeds. This information will enable better network planning by operators to ensure they keep pace with consumer demand for services.Progressing the recommendations of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce will expedite the rollout of required infrastructure and the delivery of mobile phone and broadband services, particularly in rural Ireland. The delivery of reliable high speed broadband and mobile services will support employment and cost competitiveness in existing businesses and enable the formation of new business ventures.
Notes to Editor:
Specific functions related to rural development have transferred to the new Department of Rural and Community Development under the remit of Minister Michael Ring, with effect from 19 July 2017.
About the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce (the ‘Taskforce’) was established in July 2016, arising from a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government, to deliver on the actions set out in the National Broadband Plan.
The Taskforce comprised representatives of relevant Government Departments and agencies, business and consumer interests and rural interests. ComReg sat on the Taskforce in an observer capacity. The objective of the Taskforce was to identify solutions which can be implemented in the short, medium and long term to alleviate telecommunications deficits, particularly in rural Ireland, prior to full build and rollout of the network planned under the National Broadband Plan State intervention. The report of the Taskforce, which was published in December 2016, contained a series of recommendations and 40 action points for delivery to improve mobile phone and broadband access.
An Implementation Group, co-chaired by Minister Denis Naughten and Minister Michael Ring, was established in the first quarter of 2017 to oversee and drive the actions to support the recommendations made in the Taskforce report. Progress Reports on implementation of the actions are published on a quarterly basis.
The Taskforce Report, Implementation Programme and Quarterly Progress Reports can be accessed via: http://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/communications/topics/Broadband/mobile-phone-and-broadband-taskforce/Pages/Mobile-Phone-and-Broadband-Taskforce.aspx.
About the National Broadband Plan
The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is a Government policy initiative which aims to deliver high speed broadband to every citizen and business in Ireland. The NBP’s ambition is to achieve 100% coverage across Ireland. This will be achieved through a combination of accelerated commercial investment by telecoms operators, and a State intervention to deliver access to high speed broadband to those parts of the country where there is no certainty that the commercial sector will invest. The National Broadband Plan intervention map available via www.broadband.gov.ie allows the public to check if their premises are in a commercial or State Intervention Area.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is managing a procurement process to select a company or companies who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network within the State Intervention Area, with the cost to be part-funded by a Government subsidy. The Department is currently engaged in a “competitive dialogue” process with the three bidders. The next phase of the procurement process is the Invitation to Submit Detailed Solutions and bidders have been invited to submit their proposed solutions. Following the detailed solutions phase, bidders will be asked to submit final bids.
Further information on the NBP is available at: http://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/communications/topics/Broadband/national-broadband-plan/Pages/National-Broadband-Plan.aspx