Irish govt taskforce to tackle broadband shortfall

Thursday 28 July 2016 | 16:18 CET | News
The Irish government's new Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce said it plans to identify immediate practical measures to alleviate poor rural coverage in the country ahead of the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in 2017.

The ministerial committee noted that the EU Directive on cheaper broadband has recently entered into force and obliges operators of utility networks to share information about their infrastructure with broadband providers and grant them access.

It said a further statutory instrument in the coming months will require developers to install telecoms ducts in new buildings and that it plans to work with all local authorities to eliminate delay factors, such as planning and ducting, allowing smaller towns and cities to be ready when the NBP is signed in Summer 2017.

The Taskforce is expected to report to government by the end of the year with an action plan that identifies practical measures to accelerate the roll-out of telecoms infrastructure in advance and in tandem with the NBP intervention.

The Irish Telecommunications and Internet Federation (TIF) welcomed the announcement of the taskforce and said it will suggest proposals to help improve the economic case and cooperation with councils and state agencies to accelerate the roll-out of telecoms infrastructure.

According to research published in May by IHS Technology, Slovakia and Ireland were the only two countries where overall broadband coverage levels (mobile and fixed) did not reach 99 percent or more, with Ireland standing at 97.6 percent.

Mobile operator Eir said this month it will invest EUR 50 million to boost 4G population coverage from 81 percent to 95 percent by early-2017 and Vodafone in April announced the completion of its national network upgrade, boosting 4G coverage to over 90 percent of population in every county in Ireland.

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