Fianna Fáil Councillor Aengus O’Rourke has called on the Government to conduct an independent nationwide audit of mobile phone coverage in the country and grade what standard of coverage is in place in all regions.
Councillor O’Rourke made the comments amid increasing concern about blackspots in coverage around the country, one of which is located between Athlone and Mullingar: “The lack of mobile phone coverage in many areas of the country is becoming a real problem,” he said. “There is growing anecdotal evidence of major blackspots throughout the country. One of these blackspots is the vast geographical area that lies between Athlone and Mullingar.
“Whether you travel through Ballymore or along the motorway between these two main commercial centres you will struggle to find a reliable signal. People experiencing dropped calls and patchy phone coverage is a constant source of frustration and is bad for business. The mobile phone companies are running slick advertising campaigns telling us about the joy of 4G, while at the same time far too many people struggle to maintain even a decent 3G signal.”
In order to best understand the extent of the problem, O’Rourke is calling on the Government to commission an independent audit of phone coverage in the country: “A nationwide study should also grade what type of coverage we have in different regions. I believe the problem of bad phone coverage is quite widespread. There seems to be no plan to deal with this long-standing and frustrating issue, either by the service providers or the Government.”
O’Rourke says a region’s ability to attract industry and create jobs depends heavily on having appropriate mobile phone coverage: “It is essential Ireland has a top-class mobile phone network. This will support increased inward investment and job creation. But equally if our mobile phone coverage continues to lag behind it will impact on businesses and potentially damage our competitiveness.
“Broadband provision and mobile phone coverage are two issues that need to be seriously addressed. It’s not good enough in 2015 for large parts of the country to still be without basic communication and the Government needs to invest and work with private service providers to deliver a much better service.”