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3 denies claim that poor phone coverage is due to ‘less masts'

February 22nd, 2016 4:55 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

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ELECTION candidate Cllr Alan Coleman has said that phone coverage in West Cork is a huge issue on the doorsteps, and he has discovered that one phone operator has plans to cut back hugely on the number of masts in the area.

‘Mobile phone coverage, particularly West Cork, is suffering because 3 have cut the equivalent of 68% of their masts,’ he told The Southern Star.

 ‘I’ve been canvassing on the doorsteps of West Cork in recent weeks and months, and a major issue is the diabolical mobile coverage throughout the constituency, and this led me to investigate,’ he said.

He added that while broadband was the issue at the last election, this year it is ‘mobile phone coverage and broadband.’

Ironically, while he was speaking to The Southern Star from his canvass of West Cork, his mobile phone coverage dropped out and the phone went dead.

‘My office obtained figures from ComReg, the Communications Regulator,’ he had told us earlier. ‘They show that prior to the merger of mobile service providers O2 and 3, that O2 had 1,880 masts nationwide and 3 had 1,300 masts – that’s 3,180 in total. However, once the merger is fully complete, by 2019, there will be a total of only 2,300 masts, which will be a loss of 880 masts.’

 Cllr Alan Coleman said when he was Mayor of County Cork in 2014-2015, he visited every part of the county, and  coverage today is worse than it was then.

In response, phone company 3 admitted that ‘following 3’s acquisition of O2, identical site structures were identified nationwide. Given that the duplication does not in any way improve service, we are in the process of removing these duplicate leases.’

It added, however, that this would ‘have no impact on service in the respective areas’.

In a statement to The Southern Star, it also said that over the next two years, customers would see an improvement in service, due to a €300m ‘state-of-the-art’ network investment. ‘The Big Upgrade, which is currently underway, is a two-year project aimed at integrating the best former O2 sites with Three’s newer 4G network to give our customers the best service available in the country,’ the statement added.

Cllr Coleman has said, however, that it is disappointing that ComReg are not intervening on the removal of the 880 of the mobile masts in the country. ‘This is the equivalent of 68% of the masts held by the original Three network.’

‘Have Three reduced coverage in West Cork simply to save money, and without regard for service levels?’ he asked.

 Cllr Alan Coleman is calling on ComReg to investigate the O2 and Three merger, in relation to the effect is has on coverage quality.

‘Mobile customers need to get a fairer deal, a mobile phone is no longer a luxury it is a necessity, indeed many peoples’ internet signal comes from 3G and 4G dongles which are reliant on the mobile networks so this isin’t just a voice and text issue, it’s also affecting broadband connectivity. Broadband is something the Government have clearly identified as being vital to economic prosperity,’ he said.

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