Seán Kyne urges National Broadband Plan stakeholders ‘remain focused’
Minister says the journey towards a ‘digitally connected society’ must be completed
Seán Kyne, Minister of State with responsibility for Digital Development, and Anthony Whelan, director of Electronic Communications Networks and Services, DG Connect, at the Galway forum on Friday.
All those involved in the delivery of the National Broadband Plan must “remain focused” to complete the journey towards a digitally connected society, Minister of State for Digital Development Seán Kyne has said.
Mr Kyne addressed the second Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce National Stakeholder Forum in Galway on Friday.
Former minister for communications Denis Naughten, who resigned on Thursday, had been due to speak at the event.
Mr Kyne said the National Broadband Plan was about asking providers to come up with a solution to providing high-speed broadband across the State. There was complexity to the task because it had to be accomplished within state-aid rules, he added.
The event was attended by representatives of the telecommunications companies, community representative groups, the Commission for Communications Regulation, local authorities, and government departments.
The taskforce aims to eliminate barriers to telecommunications infrastructure and deployment, as well as tackling black spots in broadband provision, pending rollout of the National Broadband Plan.
Mr Kyne said the group had 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,” he added.
Speakers included Three Ireland chief executive officer Robert Finnegan; Brian Donnellan, vice-president and dean of international affairs of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth; Carolan Lennon, chief executive officer of Eir; Anthony Whelan, director, Electronic Communications Networks and Services, DG Connect; and Conor Pope of The Irish Times.
Ms Lennon said she understood people got frustrated at not having access to broadband in some areas but she said building networks was expensive. She said Ireland also had a highly dispersed population which made it more difficult. She said a State-underpinned broadband plan was required because it was a challenge for the commercial operators and was time-consuming.
Eir was planning a €1 billion capital investment over the next five years and would bring broadband to about 1.4 million people outside the National Broadband Plan, employing about 1,000 people, Ms Lennon said.
Mr Kyne said a focus group established to provide guidance on the types of location where the provision of high quality reliable mobile coverage should be prioritised, had now published its report.
It was anticipated that the output of this group should influence the approach of mobile network operators in working to reduce mobile phone black spots.
A working group on State assets would shortly submit a policy paper to the Government in respect of leveraging publicly owned assets that were suitable for use to provide telecommunications infrastructure.
Mr Kyne praised all participants for what he said was the “substantial progress made to date”.
However, he urged them to “remain focused, resume the work, and rededicate” themselves to the work of the taskforce in order to “complete the journey towards a digitally connected society not for many, not even for most, but for all”.