My Department's remit includes working with Local Authorities to develop telecommunications infrastructure, both mobile and broadband, around Ireland. Accordingly, my officials are actively involved in a number of programmes and projects that are intended to improve connectivity in rural areas.
In support of this work, my officials engage with a wide and diverse network of stakeholders, including other Government Departments and agencies, Local Authorities, development groups, local community organisations, industry representative bodies and telecommunications operators.
My Department's primary means of supporting regional telecommunications development is through the national network of 31 Local Authority Broadband Officers.
Broadband Officers meet as a network on a monthly basis. These meetings allow the Department to disseminate updates on recent developments and provides an opportunity for Broadband Officers to share their experiences and expertise.
Over the years that the network meetings have operated, a large number of telecommunication providers, including satellite providers, have been invited to present their technologies and deployment plans to Broadband Officers.
For example, late last year, my Department's officials were contacted by a company which was interested in exploring possible sites for a small-scale pilot deployment of the company's equipment in the State. The company in question was provided with the contact details for the Local Authority Broadband Officers. They also addressed the monthly Broadband Officers network meeting on 25 February 2021. My Department had no role in this matter beyond the introductions that it made to the Broadband Officers.