16 February 2016
By Bryan Smyth
Here is what a Cork County Cllr has to say:
Mobile phone coverage across Ireland, particularly West Cork, is suffering because Three have cut the equivalent of 68% of their masts following their €850m merger with O2, meanwhile up to 40% of the Vodafone network is being turned off.
General Election Candidate in Cork South West Cllr Alan Coleman said
“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”
“My office obtained figures from ComReg – the Communications Regulator – They show that prior to the merger of mobile service providers O2 and Three:-
O2 had some 1,880 masts nationwide
Three had some 1,300 masts.
That adds up to 3,180 in total across the two firms.
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 it is true to say that coverage today is worse than it was then.
“It is disappointing that ComReg are not intervening on 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 Three reduced coverage in West Cork simply to save money? without regard for service levels?
I note that in late 2014 following worry in the West Cork area Three did say that no coverage would be lost as a result of the merger.
So, now we’ve seen a reduction in marketplace competition, and a reduction in quality of service” said Cllr Alan Coleman.
Cllr Alan Coleman is calling on ComReg to investigate the O2 and Three merger, in relation to the effect is had on coverage quality.
Separately Cllr Alan Coleman says he has received information about another mobile operator: Vodafone.
“I understand from sources close to Vodafone that some of Vodafone’s network is operated by a firm called Obelisk, and there is a commercial disagreement. The net result is that up to 40% of phone masts are being cut off because of this financial disagreement, that is certainly what I have heard from informed sources. Again, what does this mean for mobile reception both here in West Cork, and also in the rest of Ireland?”
“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”
“I am calling on ComReg to investigate coverage changes and problems more closely, people are paying hard earned money to private companies for services, and deserve quality” concluded Cllr Alan Coleman.
[article edited 17 February 2016 9.37am to include Reaction statement from Three]
Reaction statement from Three mobile:
17 February 2016
“Three has said in the past that there will be no impact on service as a result of the merger and this remains the case. With regard to competition in the marketplace, the merger has resulted in more competition as well as further investment in a state of the art network.
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.
Over the coming two years customers will see an improvement in service, and as part of Three’s commitment to customers we are investing €300 million in building a state of the art network service right across the country. 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.”