Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Ceisteanna (134)

Brendan Smith


134. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to introduce a public service obligation on mobile telecommunications providers to ensure that all areas of the country have adequate and proper mobile telephony coverage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35079/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Providing telecommunication services, including mobile phone and broadband services, is a matter for the relevant service providers operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communication Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator. Obligations in relation to mobile coverage are set out in licences granted by Comreg to the mobile operators and ComReg advises that the current minimum coverage obligations are being exceeded considerably by all operators. The regulator is currently preparing detailed award proposals for wireless broadband services under the proposed Multiband Spectrum Award process to commence next year and has commissioned studies and technical reports to inform its approach and its consideration of appropriate coverage and rollout obligations in that context. These studies are available at www.comreg.ie

In relation to mobile coverage, ComReg has developed a national outdoor coverage map (available at this link), which can help consumers choose the network provider that best meets their needs for where they live, work and travel. ComReg has also published the results of tests carried out on mobile/smartphone handsets currently available in Ireland (available athttps://www.comreg.ie/publication/mobile-handset-performance-data). These findings will further allow consumers to make informed decisions based on the handsets which best address their needs. These actions arose from discussions of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, established in 2016

Since 2016, the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce has been a driving force for improving access to telecommunications services nationwide. It has completed over 70 targeted actions to alleviate connectivity barriers, and continues to tackle issues impeding the rollout of essential infrastructure in rural areas. The Taskforce will continue its work in the context of its inclusion in the Programme for Government, in ensuring access to high quality telecommunications connectivity across Ireland to support social and economic development.