Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD and Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD.
After a week where phone and wifi signals were quite poor in Longford, the people of the county will be delighted to learn that the inaugural meeting of the Government's Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Group has taken place!
The first meeting of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Group, co-chaired by Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, was held earlier today (Wednesday, March 8).
The establishment of the Implementation Group is a commitment in the Action Plan for Rural Development.
The Implementation Group has been established by the two ministers to drive progress on implementing the measures recommended by the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, which published its final report in December.
The report contains 40 actions aimed at accelerating the delivery of telecoms infrastructure by commercial operators and also at facilitating the rollout of the State led Intervention under the National Broadband Plan.
Commenting after the inaugural meeting, Minister Naughten said, “There is huge value in bringing together in one place the many different parts of Government that impact upon the roll out of vitally important telecoms infrastructure, particularly in rural Ireland. There is also a clear benefit in making sure there is tight co-operation between stakeholders, including industry, to ensure the delivery of many of the actions, especially around the role of the Broadband Officers and enabling the National Broadband Plan."
He added ‘’I am pleased to see progress being made and welcome the fact that one operator, eir, has already launched ‘WiFi calling’ on its network. I hope to see other operators introduce this and other network feature and functionality enhancements as soon as possible.’’
Minister Humphreys said, “Improving rural connectivity is an important pillar of the Action Plan for Rural Development and the establishment of this Implementation Group is a vital step in our work to drive improvements in broadband infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. The Gorup has a clear mandate, not only to deliver upon the 40 recommendations already identified in the Taskforce’s final report, but to also identify emerging issues that may impact upon the timely rollout of mobile phone and broadband infrastructure. To this end, we will convene an annual forum later in the year that will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to make their views known.”
Actions outlined in the report focus on optimising network performance, improving consistency in relation to planning procedures, enhancing access to infrastructure, engaging with stakeholders on issues impacting on the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure, and equipping consumers to make informed decisions on available products and services.
The Taskforce Implementation Group brings together all key stakeholders identified in the Taskforce report with responsibility for delivery of actions. This will ensure that strong momentum and timely delivery is maintained over the coming months, and will enable early identification and proactive management of any emerging challenges to the delivery of actions.
Quarterly progress reports will be produced on the status of actions outlined in the Taskforce report, and a comprehensive annual review of progress will be undertaken at the end of 2017.