BY JACKIE KEOGH
MOBILE phone coverage in West Cork is getting worse, according to Independent Cllr Alan Coleman.
Cllr Coleman said he believes mobile phone coverage across Ireland – but particularly West Cork – is suffering because ‘3’ have cut the equivalent of 68% of their masts following their €850m merger with O2.
In the run-up to the general election, in which he stood as an independent candidate, Cllr Coleman said: ‘It was a major issue on the doorsteps.’
He said he met with so much negative comments about the ‘diabolical’ mobile coverage throughout the Cork South West constituency that he carried out his own investigation.
Cllr Coleman told The Southern Star: ‘My office obtained figures from ComReg – the Communications Regulator – which show that prior to the 02 and ‘3’ merger, O2 had some 1,880 masts nationwide and ‘Three’ had some 1,300 masts – a figure that adds up to 3,180 in total across the two firms.
‘However, once the merger is fully complete by 2019 there will be only 2,300 masts, which will be a loss of 880 masts.’
Cllr Alan Coleman said: ‘It is disappointing that ComReg are not intervening in relation to the removal of 880 of the mobile masts in the country. This is the equivalent of 68% of the masts held by the original ‘Three’ network.
‘The European Commission did not place any obligation on the two entities to relinquish mobile site locations, so the question must be asked: Have ‘3’ reduced coverage in West Cork simply to save money, without regard for service levels?
‘In late 2014, ‘3’ did say that no coverage would be lost as a result of the merger, said Cllr Coleman, ‘but we have seen a reduction in marketplace competition, and a reduction in quality of service.’
Cllr Alan Coleman has called on ComReg to investigate the O2 and ‘3’ merger, in relation to the effect is had on coverage quality.
In response, ComReg told The Southern Star: ‘As far as ComReg is concerned, 3 continues to meet its coverage obligations and is in fact exceeding them. There will be a rationalisation of sites on the Three network as part of the merger process but that will simply entail the removal of duplicate sites.’
And they also directed us to a recent statement from ‘3’: ‘Following Three’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.
‘This will have no impact on service in the respective areas.’