From Department of Rural and Community Development
Published on 16 December 2021
Last updated on 16 December 2021
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD, have reconvened the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce.
The previous Taskforce operated between 2016 – 2019 with a remit to identify and address barriers to improving mobile phone and broadband coverage.
Made up of senior officials from central and local government, statutory agencies and the commercial sector, the Taskforce delivered on more than 70 specific actions over a three year programme of work.
Minister Humphreys said:
“I am delighted that we have today re-convened the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. This Taskforce will play a key role in addressing issues related to mobile phone and broadband services. These issues were clearly identified during the recent public consultation process that underpinned ‘Our Rural Future’ – the Government’s ambitious five-year rural development policy. As someone from Rural Ireland, I know all too well people’s desire to have access to good quality broadband, mobile phone coverage and connectivity. I am confident that Taskforce members will work in the same innovative and collaborative manner which was so successful in the work of the previous Taskforce. The membership of the Taskforce is drawn from across the public and private sectors, and I look forward to working with the members over the coming weeks to agree an ambitious and targeted programme of work.”
The previous Taskforce ran from 2016-2019 and acted as a forum for collaborative discussion and the sharing of ideas. It is intended that the re-convened Taskforce will now build on this successful model.
The output of the previous Taskforce included:
Minister of State Smyth commented:
“It is very important that we acknowledge the work of the previous Taskforce. Not just in terms of its output, but also the collaborative culture that it supported, of open and frank communication between the public and private sector on an issue of vital importance to everyone: equal access to decent, reliable telecommunications services. In paying tribute to the excellent work done by the previous Taskforce, including by Industry, we should also note how much has changed since the last Taskforce was operational. The NBP contract has been awarded and work has begun to bring a high speed and future-proofed broadband network to every part of the country and it remains the ambition of the Government to rollout the NBP as quickly as possible. ComReg is working towards the Multi Band Spectrum Award II process to award spectrum rights of use to improve mobile connectivity across Ireland. On an almost daily basis, we see rapid advances in digital technologies, digital use and, accordingly, the expectations of the public are changing too. There are complex issues that need to be resolved if we are to meet current needs and future-proof our telecommunications services and connectivity, and these require a formal structure to facilitate cross-sectoral cooperation. It will take a collective effort and time to overcome these issues.”
Addressing the re-established Taskforce, Minister Humphreys and Minister Smyth outlined the issues that will be prioritised and invited members to propose specific actions that each can take to resolve them. These issues discussed include:
Minister Humphrey continued:
“Many of the mobile and broadband services that have carried us through the pandemic were made possible by the previous Taskforce, either as formal actions delivered by members or as a result of the excellent lines of communication that the Taskforce built. However, times change and needs change with them. Now we need to tackle the remaining issues holding us back. Our Rural Future commits to a model of regional social and economic development that is sustainable, that rebuilds and reinforces rural and under-served communities. Minister Smyth and I are confident that the Taskforce can play a crucial role in delivering on this commitment.”
Minister Smyth added:
“Ultimately, through addressing these remaining telecoms and digital related challenges, we will enable our citizens to participate and benefit fully from a gigabit society, whilst also eliminating the urban/ rural digital divide’’.
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce is made up of senior officials from Government Departments, Statutory Agencies, and Local Government and engages with representatives of the telecommunications industry.
The Taskforce is Co-Chaired by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD.
The Taskforce was first established in 2016 to identify and address barriers to improved mobile phone and broadband services in areas with poor connectivity ahead of the roll out of the National Broadband Plan. Over the course of three years, it drove significant developments in operational practice, policy development and engagement between the pubic and commercial sector.
The Taskforce was advised and supported in its work by ComReg.
The reconvened Taskforce consists of
The work of the Taskforce is supported by ComReg, who act as independent advisors to the Taskforce, and ongoing engagement with Ibec on behalf of the Telecommunications Industry.
The Taskforce will meet bi-annually.
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From Department of Rural and Community Development