Future of work and connectivity report

Three pillars to reduce the rural-urban broadband gap

The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce has announced its new programme for work, which outlines ‘three pillars’ of delivery between 2022 and 2025.

Established in 2016 with the aim of reducing the gap in broadband quality between urban and rural Ireland, the taskforce is a cross-government initiative for which responsibility is shared between the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department for Rural and Community Development. The report on the first three years of the taskforce’s operations states that it delivered 70 initiatives which have successfully reduced the quality gap.

The taskforce held its first meeting since the reformed plans in April 2022, which was co-chaired by Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphries TD, and Minster of State Ossian Smyth TD. The group states that its top priority will be delivery of mobile phone and broadband actions that implement the EU Connectivity Toolbox’s best practices relating to the further streamlining of permitting and licensing granting procedures.

The Government’s National Broadband Plan reduced its initial target of high-quality broadband from 200,000 to 102,000 by January 2023, owing to complications arising from Covid-19. The plan aims to increase the number of premises with high-quality broadband from 77 per cent to 95 per cent by 2025.

To help achieve this in rural Ireland, the taskforce outlines six plans in its first pillar which aim to improve planning and licencing, including enforcement of article eight of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive by “promoting the installation of ducting at new builds which specifically supports fibre broadband rollout, made accessible at all locations within the new build,” which it aims to do within the next 12 months.

Long-term, the taskforce aims to on measures to address the issues of ownership of ducting and chambers, as well as review and update planning guidelines from a telecommunications policy perspective, taking into account sectoral developments and the need to adapt to emerging technologies.

The second pillar is improving information and access to assets and infrastructure. In the first year, the taskforce aims to make fixed radio links information publicly available and in a downloadable format via the Siteviewer resource, to provide greater overall transparency to relevant stakeholders regarding services deployed in certain areas.

In the medium term (one to two years), they aim to develop a standard approach and associated guidance document in relation to ducting and chamber deployments to support a ‘dig once’ policy.

The third and final pillar is improving consumer information, advice and experience. One of the short-term plans is to conduct a data analysis exercise to examine the main areas of telecoms advertising that generate consumer complaints, and provide guidance and/or directions to the sector to address any failings. In the medium term, it hopes to launch a consumer information campaign aiming to improve awareness of the basics of new technologies available.


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