Mobile phone firms blame mast ban for poor service
on 15/10/2013 00:00:00
Mobile phone companies have told ComReg, the Communications Regulator, of difficulties in locating new infrastructure in Kerry, including problems in securing consent to erect new masts.
In recent weeks, there has been a large number of complaints about the service in Kerry, with hundreds of customers contacting the companies and seeking improvements.
Even in areas that normally have a good service, reception has been poor and calls have been regularly breaking down.
People may have to wait another month before the service improves.
Independent TD Tom Fleming has raised the issue with Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.
"The very poor quality of mobile-phone reception in a significant number of areas throughout Kerry is becoming more and more noticeable on a daily basis,'' Mr Fleming said.
He added that he had received hundreds of complaints about what he claimed had become a health and safety issue.
''The big fear is that lives could be at risk in the event of people not being able to contact emergency services,'' he added.
Replying to Mr Fleming, ComReg said that all providers of the service had, to date, met their obligations under their licences.
However, the operators had also outlined difficulties in locating infrastructure in Kerry.
According to the county development plan, masts are not allowed within 1km of residential buildings, including schools and hospitals, or other buildings where people live and work.
"This limits service providers' ability to provide new base stations to improve services in response to market demand,'' ComReg said.
Vodafone, meanwhile, is currently upgrading its network in Kerry and the work is expected to continue for the next month.
A spokesperson for the company said: "In order to enhance mobile voice and data coverage, work has to be conducted on the sites in the area and customers may experience network interruptions during this time.
"We are endeavouring to contact all of our customers in the area to inform them that work is taking place.''