New National Development plan puts mobile coverage boost on silent
Rural broadband roll out is 'as you were', but there was with no mention of the next national mobile network according to the The National Development Plan.
That means no new detail on how much the controversial National Broadband Plan is likely to cost, or exactly when 540,000 homes and businesses will see an actual connection to a State-built network. (It is expected to commence sometime in 2019.)
But while rural broadband is at least being dealt with, the lack of any stated plan for critical mobile networks is puzzling.
Mobile network coverage is considered to be as important an issue for regional telecoms and social infrastructure as broadband.
Ireland's current regime does not require coverage in rural areas, defaulting only to a much smaller geographic area, equivalent to 90pc of the population. This largely means cities and large towns, with a few smaller towns and villages thrown in for good measure.
Last year, Communications Minister Denis Naughten indicated that the next mobile licence - likely to be 5G - might require total geographic coverage rather than the current majority population-based system.
This would be a major step change in how a European country treats mobile coverage, something acknowledged by Minister Naughten at the time.
So it's strange Ireland's masterplan makes no reference whatsoever to either 5G or mobile networks.