Minister Canney publishes the third quarterly progress report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce

Published 17 December 2018

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment Seán Canney TD, today published the third quarterly progress report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Group for 2018.

Speaking about the work accomplished so far by the Implementation Group, Minister Canney said: “We have come a long way in the last two years, with a number of actions delivered that are directly contributing to improving mobile phone and broadband coverage throughout Rural Ireland. I’m extremely pleased to be taking on the role of Chair of the Group. I am committed to seeing the current work programme through to a timely completion and developing a new suite of actions for delivery in 2019.”

Implementation Group members addressed a number of significant actions in 2018 including reviews of planning practices, fees and legislation, the installation of new fibre-ready ducting along the national roads network and a scheme to allow the use of mobile phone repeaters in the home. Those, and the other actions completed by the Implementation Group will have positive impact for the delivery of enhanced broadband and mobile services to customers.

Minister Canney added: “I look forward to developing next year’s Work Programme and setting out new actions that can be tackled collectively by public and private sector bodies to overcome current barriers to connectivity. We need to keep at the forefront of everything we do those people who do not currently have access to high-speed broadband. The people living in poorly served areas must remain our focus as we progress this work, and ensuring access to quality mobile and broadband services must remain our number one priority as we support the development of our regions.”

The next progress report will include a review of all actions encompassed in the 2018 Work Programme, as well as setting out the 2019 Work Programme.

The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Quarterly Progress Report – Q3 2018, can be accessed here.​

ENDS

 

Notes to editor:

Background

  • The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce (the ‘Taskforce’) was established in July 2016 to consult and engage with the telecoms industry to identify solutions 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 Taskforce published its final Report (available here) in December 2016, addressing a wide range of issues impacting on the provision of broadband and mobile services. The report sets out 40 actions aimed at alleviating the issues that it identified.
  • An Implementation Group was established in early 2017 to oversee the timely implementation of all the actions of the Taskforce’s report. The Group publishes a Progress Report on a quarterly basis and this facilitates ongoing engagement between all stakeholders. This Group is now chaired by Minister of State Sean CanneyTD.
  • The Implementation Group published its 2017 Review (available here)on 21 February 2018, which outlined progress made on each action, as well as identifying 34 new actions for delivery in 2018.
  • All Progress Reports can be found at: https://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-development/mobile-phone-and-broadband-taskforce/

Some of the progress made in Q3 2018 includes:

  • The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has approved the revision of rental charges for access to cable ducts along the national roads network. This will simplify access to cable ducts and lower costs, encouraging companies to further develop and expand telecommunications infrastructure.
  • A number of commercial agreements are in place between telecommunication operators to reduce costs through a variety of mechanisms, including the sharing of mast infrastructure, sharing of trench openings, infrastructure swops, duct or sub-duct rental and managed services. This increased engagement results in greater information sharing which in turn leads to improved telecoms infrastructure deployment.
  • A protocol for engagement on general planning matters between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) and industry has now been finalised and agreed. Meetings with industry will commence in the New Year, which will ensure that the planning system is responsive to developments in the telecommunications sector. This protocol will also enable DHPLG to engage regularly with other bodies such as the local authorities and the Telecommunications and Internet Federation (TIF) on a number of other matters.
  • The County and City Management Association (CCMA) has implemented standardised application fees for road opening licences nationally and is monitoring its impact nationwide. Delivery of a standardised National Charging Framework for road openings has been a key delivery of the Implementation Group and will provide certainty to operators over road opening charges across the country.
  • The State Assets Working Group, led by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, with the remit of investigating the feasibility of developing standardised policy for accessing and utilising State assets for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure, is progressing well. The Group is currently finalising a Policy paper with the intention of submitting it to Government before year end. The Policy Paper will attempt to leverage State and publicly owned assets suitable for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. This has the potential to greatly improve mobile and broadband coverage, particularly in rural areas.