I was delighted to launch the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review 2018 this morning at the National Concert Hall.
I now chair the Taskforce, which was established in 2016 to identify and overcome obstacles to mobile phone and broadband services.
The issues affecting mobile phone and broadband connectivity are wide-ranging and complex and they require a coordinated and collaborative approach.
The Taskforce works across government and with interested parties, including the telecoms industry, to effect real change.
Last year we made progress in several areas:
• Transport Infrastructure Ireland have established almost one thousand kilometres of cable ducting along our national roads and motorways, ensuring that the fibre-optic spine needed to push broadband services out to all of our citizens is possible.
• ComReg, the communications regulator, have made it possible for people to use mobile phone repeaters in their homes. This means that people will be able to receive improved mobile phone signals in their homes.
• Local Authorities have radically revised the way applications for public works are dealt with, allowing telecoms infrastructure to be built appropriately where and when it is needed without compromising their role in protecting the safety and interests of residents.
• Telecoms operators have undertaken a significant programme of investment and development, trialling new technologies, like wifi calling, and building new infrastructure in areas of most need.”
I am very proud of the work of the Taskforce and am looking forward to major improvements to broadband and mobile phone coverage in 2019. My department, the Department for Rural and Community Development will also drive the deployment of free public WiFi across the country to ensure that our villages, towns and cities have access to the digital economy.