Sun, 12 Jul 2020

DUBLIN, Ireland - Ireland's Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce held its third National Stakeholder Forum on Friday.

The Taskforce was established in 2016 to identify issues affecting the rollout of infrastructure and improve telecommunication services ahead of the implementation of the National Broadband Plan. The Forum provides an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss issues affecting the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure.

Opening the Forum on Friday, Sen Canney, the Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development and chair of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce praised the Taskforce's work to date, highlighting the spirit of collaboration and open communication:

As chair of the Taskforce, I've seen first-hand what can be accomplished when a group of people, such as everyone here today, works together to progress a shared objective. In its three years of existence, the Taskforce has made significant progress in a wide range of areas; planning, policy, access to infrastructure or consumer experience, to name a few. None of this would have been possible without the dedication of the Taskforce members.

This year, a number of leaders from across industry, local and central Government, academia, consumer rights and community groups took part in two thematic sessions. One examined the role of mobile technologies and how they can influence our society and economy into the future. The other addressed how broadband connectivity can help bridge the digital divide with a focus on remote working and co-working growth.

A wide range of other topics were also discussed, including the ASAI's new advertising guidelines for the telecommunications sector and the rollout implications of 5G technologies.

Minister Canney prompted attendees to share their views on the future format of the Taskforce:

The signature of the NBP contract is now closer than ever. With the Taskforce's original purpose to deliver improved connectivity and services pending rollout of the NBP, it now begs the question: how best can the Taskforce continue to drive forward improvements? The strong communication and cooperation that we have seen between all of the parties involved is clearly one of its strengths and something we should maintain. So I'll ask you all; what would you recommend for the future orientation of the Taskforce? If we picture the future, as the NBP rolls-out, what work will the Taskforce do? How will the Taskforce help? What will our new priorities be and how will we address them?

After thanking all in attendance, the minister concluded:

What we considered to be a distant future in terms of connectivity only a couple of years ago is happening right now. We've heard today that technology is already changing the way we work and study, how we farm, how we communicate with each other, our health services and so many other areas. We need to keep working collectively to ensure that telecommunication services are deployed as quickly, as safely and as efficiently as possible throughout the country, while also protecting what is precious to us. This is a dynamic process - we need to keep this conversation going, we need to keep sharing our knowledge, and we need to continue to work together. Every single person in Ireland, regardless of where they live, learn, work or travel deserves a first-rate service, and together that's what we will deliver. We need to make sure that we leave no one behind.

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