Government stresses it is still committed to a digitally connected Ireland

12 Oct 2018294 Views

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Valentia Island. Image: © MNStudio/Stock.adobe.com

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Minister Seán Kyne, TD, spoke at the second National Mobile Phone and Broadband Stakeholder Forum in Co Galway.

As a diverse range of broadband stakeholders descended on Ballinasloe, Co Galway, today (12 0ctober), the fresh resignation of Minister Denis Naughten, TD, was undoubtedly on the minds of attendees.

Moderated by tech journalist and broadcaster Jess Kelly, the forum brought together telecoms firms, community groups, local authorities and Government departments, among others.

Government is working steadily

Speaking at the event, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment Seán Kyne, TD, said: “The mobile phone and broadband taskforce has been working steadily and determinedly to improve mobile phone and broadband coverage for householders, businesses and communities across the country.

“In Government, we are keen to build on the progress achieved, and today’s forum is a great opportunity for stakeholders to provide valuable input and feedback to help us plan the next steps for the taskforce.”

Editor of Silicon Republic, John Kennedy, was this year’s keynote speaker, while the main panel of speakers included Robert Finnegan, CEO, Three Ireland; Brian Donnellan, vice-president and dean of international affairs, Maynooth University; Carolan Lennon, CEO, Eir; Anthony Whelan, director of electronic communications networks and services, DG Connect; and Conor Pope, journalist, The Irish Times.

Key broadband and connectivity challenges

Panellists were challenged to identify the key future challenges facing Government and industry in rolling out new telecoms infrastructure.

Kyne noted some of the achievements of the national taskforce in the 12 months since the inaugural stakeholder forum. These include publication of smartphone tests by ComReg to inform customers of choices, and development of a licensing exemption scheme by ComReg. The latter means households and businesses can now use indoor mobile phone repeaters to boost signals within their premises to bring improvements in mobile coverage.

The focus group, which was established to provide guidance on categories of location where the provision of high-quality, reliable mobile coverage should be prioritised, has now published its report. The Government anticipates that the output of this focus group should influence the approach of mobile network operators in working to reduce mobile phone blackspots. It will also inform future policy with regard to priorities for mobile phone services.

A working group on State assets has also been established and it will shortly be submitting a policy paper to Government around leveraging State and publicly owned assets suitable for the housing and deployment of telecoms infrastructure.

Kyne urged all stakeholders to “remain focused, resume the work and rededicate” themselves to complete the journey towards a “digitally connected society not for many, not even for most, but for all”.

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com