Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (577)

Brendan Smith

Question:

577. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to have mobile telephone coverage improved in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53397/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Providing telecommunications services, including mobile phone services, is a matter for the relevant service providers operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator. I do not have statutory authority to require commercial companies to rollout services and make specific investments in particular locations. The ComReg consumer helpline is accessible at consumerline@comreg.ie and I would urge consumers who feel that they have not received an appropriate response from service providers to make contact with the Regulator.

Since its inception in July 2016, the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce has been a driving force for improving access to telecommunications services throughout Ireland. The Taskforce has addressed over 70 targeted actions designed to alleviate connectivity barriers, and continues to focus on issues that are negatively impacting upon the rollout of essential telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas, including in counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Various measures to address mobile coverage deficits, particularly in rural areas, include:

- Work undertaken by my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development to achieve a greater consensus on site selection for telecoms infrastructure and therefore improve mobile phone coverage.

- A report published on my Department’s website in August 2018 based on the work of a focus group established to provide guidance on the categories of location where high quality reliable mobile coverage should be made available as a priority, to influence mobile operators in their work to reduce blackspots.

- A working group investigating the feasibility of developing standardised policy for accessing and utilising State and publicly owned assets for deploying telecommunications infrastructure.

- A composite national outdoor coverage map published by ComReg, together with the Regulator’s work on handset testing and activities to raise consumer awareness, allowing people across Ireland to optimise services available to them.

- A licensing exemption scheme developed by ComReg to enable households and businesses to use mobile phone repeaters to boost signals into their premises for immediate coverage improvement.

All of these initiatives should help enhance the quality of mobile phone and data services, particularly in areas currently experiencing a low level of service, including counties Cavan and Monaghan.