Kilkenny's poor mobile phone coverage in certain parts of the county has been raised in the Dáil but the Minister has said people are not complaining.
Labour's Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications to outline the steps that have been taken to improve mobile telephone coverage in rural parts of the country in the past six months.
Deputy Sherlock said: “In large swathes of the country, people cannot get mobile telephone coverage.
“When can people who do not have coverage expect to have coverage? What are the timelines? When we can expect delivery of a 100% rate of penetration for 3G coverage in the country?”
In response, Minister Denis Naughten said: “I specifically included in the programme for Government a commitment to a mobile phone and broadband task force.
“In July 2016, I established the task force to identify immediate solutions to broadband and mobile telephone coverage deficits and to investigate how better services could be provided to consumers.
“The group comprises all key stakeholders responsible for delivery. Meetings were held in March and July and the next meeting is scheduled for today, November 22.
“Achievements to date by the task force include funding of all local authorities to assign a broadband officer and close co-operation with local authorities to develop local digital strategies.
“This includes the Government working closely with local authorities to identify approximately 320 high-speed strategic community access hubs that will be connected at an early date after the national broadband plan contract."
Deputy Sherlock said: “I conducted a straw poll today of people I know throughout the country.
“Cushenstown in rural Wexford has little or no mobile coverage. Maryborough Hill, Douglas in the heart of Cork has little or no mobile coverage. North Meath outside of Kells and Navan has no coverage.
“Other places, including the area west of Carrigrohane in Cork, have no courage. Wolfhill in Laois, Balgriffin in north Dublin and Knocknacarra in the heart of Galway city have no coverage.
“North-East Kilkenny has no coverage. We must get the basics right. I am asking the Minister the question in simple terms.
“Will he ask the mobile telephone operators specifically to ensure that they provide coverage? It is all well and good to talk about tender processes for selling bandwidth and so on.”
In response, Minister Naughten: “While I am on the issue of ComReg, I wish to point out that since January, ComReg has received a little more than 5,000 complaints, a total of 163 of which relate to mobile telephone coverage. People are not complaining.
“I do not disagree with Deputy Sherlock. This is a problem. Far too many times I have had to turn off the data on my mobile telephone to try to get telephone coverage.
“I should not have to do that but that is the only way I can get coverage at the moment, and that is not good enough. More and more frequently, people are seeing the "no service" notice when they look at their handsets.
“I believe the mobile telephone operators should be brought in, along with ComReg, before the committee to deal with these issues.”