Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Michael Moynihan TD, has expressed his concern that rural Ireland may be again left behind as the new 4G licences were awarded today.

The rights for the use of Ireland’s new wireless spectrum was auctioned today with the four telecom providers in Ireland paying for the use of the new 4G service.

“While I welcome the fact that auctioning the licence could net the exchequer close to €1 billion, I have serious reservations about access to the new service in rural Ireland.

“Under the obligations of the licence, I understand that all operators must maintain a minimum coverage of 70% of the population and this target must be met within 3 years.

“However, 70% of the population in Ireland only covers the main urban cities and towns; in fact 77% of the country’s land mass would not be covered. Rural Ireland has already been left behind with 3G and I sincerely hope that the same doesn’t happen with 4G. Many rural areas across the country have very poor mobile and internet reception and the Government cannot allow for this to happen with the new service.

“We could see as much as one third of the population losing out on the new high speed service.

“The results of the auction will provide a one off boost of €450 million to the exchequer with another €372.9 million to be paid in instalments until 2030. What plans has the Minister to invest the proceeds? I am going to raise this issue with Minister Pat Rabbitte in the Dáil and impress upon him the need to include rural Ireland in the plans for 4G.”