Fianna Fáil member of the Public Accounts Committee Seán Fleming has criticised a major failure on the part of the Communications Regulator to protect mobile phone users, in particular those with smart phones.

This information came to light during today’s Public Accounts Committee meeting with Alex Chisholm, Chairman of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Deputy Fleming said: “At today’s meeting I questioned the Communications Regulator about the poor mobile signal coverage in parts of the country.  Mr. Chisholm eventually confirmed that in the case of the Vodafone licence, 99% coverage of the population was required in their 2G licence which covered traditional mobile phones.  Mr. Chisholm then conceded this was reduced to 85% for the 3G licences required by smart phones.

“I also learned that for other mobile phone operators such as O2, Meteor, 3, and Tesco the coverage requirement by the Regulator is less than 85% in their individual licences.

“It is now clear that mobile phone users who purchased smart phones and have struggled to receive adequate signal coverage have been let down by the Communications Regulator who failed abysmally to communicate this to the public.  Once again, serious questions arise about the efficacy of a regulator whose remit is to serve the public interest.

“I am calling on Mr. Chisholm to review how ComReg has handled this issue and to report back to the Committee.  People spending scarce resources on expensive mobile phones have a right to expect that their regulatory system is working to protect them.”