Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (596)

Michael Moynihan


596. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the details supplied by Cork County Council on mobile phone black spots; the number of black spots identified; the steps being taken to address these black spots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7964/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

In 2017, officials from my Department, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and a small number of Local Authorities met to examine the potential for mapping mobile phone blackspots in Ireland.

On foot of these meetings, an invitation was issued in late 2017 to all Local Authorities to provide data on 5-6 prioritised local blackspots.

Some Local Authorities provided details of more than the 5-6 blackspots requested. However, the intention was only to identify areas of immediate priority for the purposes of the exercise in question, rather than to compile a definitive list of blackspots across the country. Cork County Council identified 12 priority blackspots.

While the exercise was informative, it was not comprehensive. Of the thirty-one Local Authorities, only seventeen returned data to feed into the exercise. The majority of Local Authorities did not have the capacity to carry out technical testing. Furthermore, the methods used to collect the data varied.

Simultaneously, mobile network operators and infrastructure providers were increasing the number of mobile phone sites in service, as well as upgrading existing networks. As a consequence, the data that was collected in 2018 only represented a snapshot in time for certain areas and could not be interpreted as a definitive source of information regarding mobile phone blackspots. Nor would it be a fair reflection of the current situation, as network developments are taking place on an ongoing basis.

ComReg will shortly be publishing a national map of mobile phone coverage for 2G, 3G and 4G services. This map will show the quality of mobile phone coverage across the county and is a key deliverable of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. My Department will continue to work with Local Authorities and telecommunications providers throughout 2019 to ensure that new infrastructure is targeted to the areas most in need.