Local councils being asked to identify worst mobile coverage 'black spots'

Denis Naughten says there is increased demand on mobile networks around the country

Local councils being asked to identify worst mobile coverage 'black spots'

Denis Naughten. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Communications Minister admits that a lack of mobile phone coverage is preventing some Irish businesses from expanding.

Denis Naughten wants local councils to identify the worst affected black-spots in their counties.

The Department of Communications also wants to speed up the process for providing better coverage.

According to Minister Naughten, his department is hoping to provide quality coverage along all national road networks by the end of this year.

He acknowledged that businesses can suffer from the lack of high-speed broadband.

Speaking this morning at the launch of the annual report for the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, Minister Naughten explained: "It's definitely frustrating in relation to businesses that want to expand. I think businesses that are setting up are finding ways around it... but really for them it's when they've already got a good idea, started up that business, demand grows, and they need decent broadband connections."

He stressed that work is under way to improve coverage around the country - but warned complete coverage is not feasible.

He observed: "Some of the industry players now say they have 96% coverage across the country. The difficulty is that there are 'black spots' where people are getting no mobile phone coverage.

"There are also issues where people traditionally got mobile phone coverage and are not getting it now. That's because of the increase and demand that is being put on those networks."

Minister Naughten said addressing such issues typically requires more antennae, wires and masts.

He noted that local authorities are working with communities to identify suitable spots for masts, while the Government is also looking into using public buildings as sites to install antennae.

However, the minister added: "You're never going to have complete 100% coverage across every network, across every location. What we're going to do... we're looking at the 5G network.

"I want to see the 5G mobile network - that's going to be deployed in the '20s, and hopefully by 2020 - deployed on a geographic basis rather than on a population basis."

Earlier this month, telecoms firm Vodafone said it has held Ireland’s first successful live demonstration of pre-standard 5G technology - achieving 15 gigabit per second speeds.

The company hopes to roll-out 5G services for customers in the next 24 months.

Reporting by Paul Quinn and Stephen McNeice