In July 2016, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment – Denis Naughten and Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs – Heather Humphreys established the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce.
The goal of the taskforce was to identify immediate solutions to broadband/mobile phone coverage deficits and to investigate how better services could be provide to consumers prior to full build and rollout of the network planned under the National Broadband Plan.
ComReg as independent Regulator had identified similar issues through the development of its Radio Spectrum Management Strategy Statement 2016 – 2018 and its consultation on its Strategy Statement for Electronic Communications for 2017 – 2019, which formed the basis of its inputs to the Taskforce. A taskforce report was published in December 2016 and included 40 recommendations and actions associated with Departments, Agencies, Local Authorities, The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) and industry providers. The recommendations correlate highly with the actions identified by ComReg through its strategic analysis and ComReg has thereby undertaken several action areas which support the objectives of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce.
ComReg’s key action areas:
• ComReg intends to provide information on handset sensitivity due to antenna performance and network coverage, allowing consumers to make informed choices about the level of signal they can expect from different handsets.- Corresponds to Action no. 28
• ComReg intends to generate and publish online a composite national coverage map, which will help consumers choose the network provider that best meets their needs for where they live and work. – Corresponds to Action no. 29
• In line with provisions in respect of contracts and transparency under the existing Universal Services Regulations, ComReg intends to seek that a breakdown of contract costs including monthly handset and services costs will be available to consumers. – Corresponds to Action no. 30
• ComReg is consulting on complaint handling procedures and intends that Services Providers make their complaints procedures readily available to consumers on all issues relating to mobile phone and broadband services. ComReg will similarly publicise its own consumer information services. – Corresponds to Action no. 31.
• As part of its normal course of Consultation on Spectrum matters ComReg will produce a five year forecast of data traffic that is made available on ComReg’s website. – Corresponds to Action no. 33
• ComReg intend to develop a licensing scheme allowing the use of mobile phone repeaters to help address the issue of indoor coverage, particularly in rural areas. – Corresponds to Action no. 37
The timelines for these actions will be available in the ComReg Action Plan on ComReg’s website as updated from time to time. In addition to these action areas, it is envisioned that the release of the 3.6GHz spectrum award in 2017, coupled with the future release of the 700MHz band, increasing the spectrum assigned to terrestrial mobile service by almost 200%, will be instrumental in meeting the societal demand for mobile data and the provisioning of both wide area and indoor coverage, across the state.
If you would like some more information on all the objectives and scope of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, please visit the link below on the DCCAE’s (Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment) website.