The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established in July 2016, arising from a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to identify solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits.
An Implementation Group, which I currently chair, oversees the delivery of all of the actions arising from the Taskforce’s 2016 report. The Implementation Group has also developed further actions which build on, and supplement, the original Taskforce recommendations.
To date, the Implementation Group has made significant progress in identifying and working to mitigate potential barriers to the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan. Quarterly reports on the progress achieved by the Implementation Group are published on my Department’s website.
The actions completed to date cover a wide range of areas such as legislative issues, policy development and consumer awareness. For example, through the work of the Implementation Group, cooperation between telecommunications operators and local and central government has been strengthened. This is resulting in additional telecommunications infrastructure being deployed more rapidly throughout the country, which in turn is leading to better mobile phone coverage and access to mobile broadband services.
In addition, Transport Infrastructure Ireland have carried out an extensive ducting programme over the last 18 months which will support the roll-out of fibre infrastructure.
Other tangible examples of the work of the Taskforce include the introduction of a standardised road-opening charging framework by the Local Authorities. ComReg has also introduced a licensing exemption regime to allow the use of mobile phone repeaters, which will greatly improve mobile phone services for people living in rural areas.