Longford tops table for highest number of identified mobile phone blackspots in country
Longford has 84 mobile phone blackspots, giving it the unwanted distinction of topping the table for the highest number of identified mobile phone blackspots in the country.
The revelation is, perhaps, not all that surprising, considering county Longford also has the slowest average broadband speed in Ireland and that Legan is the slowest area in the country.
Details of the 84 mobile phone blackspots in county Longford were provided by Longford County Council to the Department of Communications as part of an initiative to identify priority blackspots and take action to address the issue.
The information came to the fore as a result of Deputy Dara Calleary asking the Minister for Communications, Sean Canney, which local authorities had supplied his department with information regarding local mobile phone blackspots in their area, the number of blackspots identified by each local authority and the funding and guidance supports that are available to the authorities to map the blackspots.
Seventeen of the thirty one local authorities provided data on blackspots.
According to the figures, Longford has the most blackspots with 84 being identified, Galway has 64, Kerry has 56, Carlow has 36 whilst Mayo and Sligo have 2.
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established in July 2016 to examine broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits in Ireland and identify tangible actions to improve the quality of these services.
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A call was issued to all Local Authorities in 2018 to map local blackspots and identify infrastructure that could potentially be used to improve telecommunications services.
Minister Canney stated, "The blackspot information provides indicative data on poor coverage in specific rural areas and along national and regional roads. However, it should be borne in mind that the number of blackspots changes as new telecommunications infrastructure is rolled out and upgraded.
"The Department will continue to work with the telecommunications providers throughout 2019 to ensure that new infrastructure is targeted to the areas most in need. It should also be noted that the imminent publication of ComReg's national coverage map will give a more accurate reflection of mobile phone coverage throughout the country."
The Department of Communications provided €35,000 to each Local Authority in 2018 to support the appointment of a Broadband Officer.
Broadband Officers are tasked with coordinating broadband and telecommunications development in their Local Authority areas. Broadband Officer funding increased to €42,000 for 2019.
Minister Canney added, "My Department has also assigned liaison officers to support Local Authority Broadband Officers in this and other initiatives. At the implementation stage of the blackspot data collection exercise, a technical information document was provided to every Local Authority to guide them in their work."