Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce publishes its final report

The report includes 40 actions and information on the investments in telecoms infrastructure that are already underway

Maeve McLaughlin
by Maeve McLaughlin on 21st December, 2016

Yesterday, Minister Denis Naughten and Minister Heather Humphreys published the final report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, which was set up after this year’s election.

Actions from the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce report

The report contains 40 actions, which are aimed at accelerating the delivery of telecoms infrastructure, ahead of the rollout of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

These measures include:

  • All local authorities will assign an officer with responsibility for broadband. This person will act as a single point of contact for engagement with the telecommunications operators who are involved in building out infrastructure.
  • The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment will work with telecoms operators and ComReg to identify mobile blackspots and come up with measures to address these blackspots.
  • ComReg will develop and publish a new network coverage map, and develop a testing regime to establish the performance of mobile phone handsets, which should help consumers to make informed choices on products and network services.
  • The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs will work with the local authorities to develop local digital strategies to maximise the potential of the telecommunications network to the fullest.
  • The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government will bring forward legislation to allow current planning exemptions for 3G antenna to extend to 4G antenna.
  • ComReg will introduce a licensing regime for repeaters in 2017 to allow householders and businesses to install high quality signal repeaters on their buildings, to boost in-house signals.

Key investments that are currently underway

In addition to the new actions identified, the report also outlines the investments that are already underway in relation to Mobile Phone and Broadband issues across the country.

These include:

  • Mobile operators are completing upgrades of their 3G and 4G networks, and at least one operator now has over 90% population coverage with 4G.
  • Telecoms operators are continuing to invest in the rollout of high speed broadband across Ireland. 1.4 million premises now have access to high speed broadband with further investment promised.
  • The procurement process for the State Intervention is well underway, and the three bidders in the process have indicated that they will propose a predominantly fibre-to-the-home network for rural Ireland.

”The actions which Government has agreed will help accelerate this investment”

Speaking about the report, and the actions identified, Minister Naughten said that he is “critically aware” of the frustrations being felt across Ireland in terms of poor connectivity and that, for that reason, delivering the NBP in the shortest time possible is “a top social, economic and political priority” for him.

He added: “Commercial telecoms companies are continuing to invest aggressively in the build out of high speed broadband and mobile phone networks. The actions which Government has agreed will help accelerate this investment and ensure that it is spread more evenly across the country”.

Minister Humphreys agreed, saying: “The actions contained in the Taskforce report will play a very important role in assisting the rollout of mobile services and high speed broadband, which will bring immediate benefits to homes and businesses throughout Ireland.

Monitoring progress

It was announced yesterday that an Implementation Group will be established to drive and monitor the implementation of the actions in the report.

There are also plans for an annual forum which will allow all stakeholders to discuss wider issues relating to the rollout of telecoms infrastructure.