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Mobile Telephony Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 16 January 2018

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Ceisteanna (1299)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

1299. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will provide a map showing detailed coverage of mobile telephone receptions for the various operators throughout the country showing the areas that do not have a satisfactory coverage to make and receive calls using either a 3G or 4G network; his plans to ensure that there are improved mobile phone signals available in many black spots throughout the country; if he will provide such a map publicly and specifically on a townland basis such as the high-speed broadband maps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1323/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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 they have not received an appropriate response from service providers to make contact with the Regulator.

Notwithstanding ComReg’s independence, I recognise the frustration felt by Irish consumers where telecommunications networks are not always delivering the services people expect. Accordingly, I specifically included in the Programme for Government a commitment to a Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. In July 2016, I established the Taskforce to identify immediate solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and investigate how better services could be provided to consumers, prior to the full build and roll-out of the network planned under the National Broadband Plan State intervention.

The Taskforce worked with key stakeholders to produce the December 2016 report available on my Department’s website, which contains 40 actions to alleviate some of the deficits. The Implementation Group I co-chair with Minister Kyne is overseeing implementation of the actions and comprises all key stakeholders responsible for delivery. This includes ComReg, who attend as both an action owner, and in an observer capacity in their role as the independent Regulator.

I published the third Taskforce Quarterly Progress Report in November 2017, which demonstrates that good progress has been made in delivering the actions. I plan to publish an Annual Report shortly. These reports show continuing progress and also the sustained level of engagement between actions owners and industry. The Annual Report will also contain a work programme for 2018, with new actions identified that will lead to improvements for consumers across Ireland.

In terms of addressing blackspots, there are several actions in the 2016 Report which aim to improve mobile coverage:

- Under Action 17, my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development worked with a pilot group of local authorities to identify the issues associated with mapping local blackspots. This pilot exercise has been completed, with more local authorities now being asked to map local blackspots and identify infrastructure that could potentially be used to provide additional coverage on an economic basis. This exercise will be included in the 2018 Work Programme.

- Under Action 40, my Department identified recommendations to address blackspots, including the initiation of a focus group to identify specific categories of locations where high quality mobile coverage should be available, to inform future policy development and initiatives. This focus group will be included in the 2018 Work Programme.

- Action 29 concerns the delivery of a composite national coverage map by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), in quarter 4 of 2018. Work to deliver this is a matter for ComReg in its capacity as the independent regulator of the telecommunications sector.

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