Irish Govt signs new statutory instrument to remove barriers to broadband

27 Jul 2016104 Shares

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A statutory instrument has been signed that obliges utility firms and road authorities to co-operate with the roll-out of broadband

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Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD, has signed into Irish law a statutory instrument that transposes an EU directive obliging utility providers and road authorities to co-operate with the roll-out of next generation broadband.

The statutory instrument (SI) transposes the EU directive 1014/61 into Irish law and will be pivotal in ensuring the National Broadband Plan rollout goes according to plan.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD, and Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys, TD, today co-chaired the first meeting of the Taskforce on Mobile Phone and Broadband Access.

“The SI is now published and it obliges operators of utility networks such as telecommunications, electricity, gas, transport and waste water to share information about their infrastructure with providers of high-speed broadband networks,” Naughten said.

“It also allows access to these networks unless there are objective reasons why they can’t, eg safety, continuity of the principal utility services.”

The statutory instrument tackles a deep-felt concern among telecoms industry providers that civil engineering efforts will be stalled by bureaucracy and administrative bottlenecks.

‘The Taskforce will deliver on a work programme that will see immediate solutions to the broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and alleviate some of the difficulties being felt by families, businesses and the young and elderly across rural Ireland’
– MINISTER DENIS NAUGHTEN,TD

One of the 100-day commitments of the new government, the Taskforce took place on the 82nd day of the coalition Government.

The focus of the taskforce is to identify practical measures to accelerate the roll-out of telecoms infrastructure in Ireland.

This has been given extra impetus ahead of the National Broadband Plan which will begin in June 2017 and will address close to 950,000 premises and over 1.8m people in broadband-deprived areas.

“I look forward to working with the Taskforce and the telecoms industry over the coming months to remove some of barriers that currently exist and deliver tangible improvements in mobile and 4G coverage in the short term,” Minister Humphreys said.

Powers of the new statutory instrument

The new statutory instrument obliges utility providers of services like telecoms, electricity, gas, transport and waste water to share information about their infrastructure with providers of high-speed broadband infrastructures.

It allows telcos to service ducts in apartment complexes and housing estates.

It also obliges roads authorities to make a decision on permits to install telecoms above or below public roads within four months.

Under the statutory instrument, if a decision is not made within four months, it will be deemed “made”.

It also establishes ComReg as a dispute settlement body if network operators cannot agree to share networks.

A further statutory instrument is expected in the coming months which will require developers to install telecoms service ducts when constructing new buildings.

“Today’s meeting was productive and I am confident that the Taskforce will deliver on a work programme that will see immediate solutions to the broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and alleviate some of the difficulties being felt by families, businesses and the young and elderly across rural Ireland,” said Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The Taskforce is expected to report to Government by the end of the year with an action plan that identifies practical measures to accelerate broadband roll-out before the National Broadband Plan commences in June 2017.

The membership of the Taskforce is as follows:

  • The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
  • The Department of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs
  • The Department of Housing and Local Government
  • The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
  • The Office of Public Works
  • NewERA
  • Transport Infrastructure Ireland
  • Teagasc
  • Trinity College Dublin’s telecommunications research centre
  • The City and Council Managers Association (CCMA)
  • Irish Rural Link
  • The Irish Country Women’s Association
  • Business representatives based in rural Ireland
  • The National Competition and Consumer Protection Commission
  • An independent planning adviser

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is participating on the Taskforce as an observer in order to provide advice and guidance in its capacity as the independent telecommunications regulator.

Irish lane image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com