rural ireland

7 ways the government says it will fix broadband access in Ireland

The government’s plan to speed up and deliver broadband services has been repeatedly delayed.

TODAY A GOVERNMENT put forward its recommendations for how issues around access to broadband and mobile phones will be solved.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys brought a report compiled by a broadband taskforce before Cabinet for consideration.

The report contains 40 actions aimed at accelerating the delivery of telecoms infrastructure, ahead of the rollout of the National Broadband Plan which will bring high speed broadband to all premises throughout the country.

Here are the key actions included in the report:

  • Mobile blackspots will be found and suggestions will be made to attempt to fix them (with one possibility being the assignment of spectrum in the 700MHz band).
  • A new network coverage map will be published and phones performance in certain areas will be tested to help people to make their choices on what internet provider and what package to buy
  • A broadband officer will be appointed in each local authority to help telecommunications companies build out infrastructure.
  • A new 95km ducting is being built along the M7 / M8 motorway, which will complete the ducting on this important Cork-Dublin route.

shutterstock_326155928 Shutterstock / asharkyu Shutterstock / asharkyu / asharkyu

Some more technical aspects which will improve broadband services include:

  • A licensing regime for repeaters in 2017 will allow householders and businesses to install high quality signal repeaters on their buildings, to boost in-house signals.
  • From the first quarter of 2017, all local authorities will apply waivers in respect of development contributions for telecoms infrastructure developments.
  • Legislation will be introduced to allow current planning exemptions for 3G antenna to extend to 4G antenna.

An annual forum convened to discuss wider issues impacting the rollout of telecoms infrastructure across Ireland, and a group will monitor the implementation of the report.


shutterstock_312949043 (1) Shutterstock / Kerdkanno Shutterstock / Kerdkanno / Kerdkanno

Ireland has frequently scored poorly in comparison to other EU countries when it comes to the percentage of households that have access to broadband.

The National Broadband Plan was first announced in 2012 with very little progress made until last year, when then-minister for communications Alex White said he expected to sign contracts with the winning bidder or bidders by mid-2016.

However, the procurement process is still ongoing and a winning bidder has yet to be appointed.

Minister Denis Naughten said that he’s ”critically aware of the frustrations being felt across Ireland in terms of poor connectivity” and that the Broadband Plan would be delivered in “the shortest time possible”.

Already, mobile operators are completing upgrades of their 3G and 4G networks; there was an €8 million allocation in Budget 2017 for the 700MHz spectrum band; telecoms operators are continuing to invest in the rollout of high speed broadband across Ireland.

Fianna Fáil Communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley criticised the timeframe for the implementation of the report, saying “there is no need to undergo another mapping exercise to see where there are mobile broadband blackspots. The mobile phone operators know exactly where coverage is poor”.

What people in many communities will be asking when they read this report is: when will my house get access to decent, high speed broadband and mobile coverage?
Unfortunately, the answer is the same as it was before this report was published: 2023 at the earliest for fixed high speed broadband in the home.

According to the Department of Communications, 1.4 million households currently have access to high speed broadband.

Read: These are the areas in Ireland with the slowest and fastest broadband speeds

Read: Here’s what to do if your broadband speed is wrecking your head

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