Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach has criticised the Communications Minister for failing to take action on mobile phone coverage. Despite claims of 90% coverage by some mobile operators, the reality on the ground is that coverage in many parts of County Louth is completely sub-standard.
Deputy Breathnach said, “I have been contacted a number of times in recent weeks about worsening phone coverage in County Louth that doesn’t seem to be specific to any one provider. Mobile signals seem to have deteriorated which is impacting not only on general customer’s personal use but also on businesses in the county, particularly in rural areas.
“The mobile phone network is essential for businesses looking to stay in contact with customers and suppliers. It’s more important now than ever before as a greater number of businesses are relying on the mobile phone network for email access on smart phones. People’s reliance on smart phones is set to increase in the years ahead so it’s important that the necessary investment in mobile infrastructure takes place to support this growth.
“People in Louth will be familiar with the issue of calls dropping unexpectedly and internet access grinding to a halt without notice. Mobile phone operators are keen to highlight the availability of new features for customers but it’s becoming apparent that they haven’t put in place the necessary infrastructure to support these developments. This is why we are seen an increase in problems with coverage and reliability in Louth.
“We need state-of-the-art mobile and broadband coverage to support jobs growth. Mobile phone operators have been focusing on large urban areas and leaving the rest of the country out of the loop. This is extremely frustrating for people living outside the main towns and cities, and particularly for those who have to travel through the countryside on a regular basis.
“Another issue of concern is the impact of roaming charges on border communities. Brexit has created a great degree of uncertainty over the future of roaming charges. Prime Minister May needs to commit to waiving roaming charges in border areas following Brexit.
“My party has called on Minister Denis Naughten to establish a universal service obligation to guarantee a minimum standard for mobile phone services throughout the country. Fianna Fáil will continue to push for this until the issue is resolved satisfactorily.”