West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Mobile Improvement project labelled 'utter failure'

Published: 8 January, 2016

Sinn Féin Mid Tyrone Councillor Barry McNally has labelled the Mobile Infrastructure Programme as an utter failure after it emerged only 2 masts in the Fermanagh and Omagh District will be completed, of a proposed 16, as set out at the beginning of the project last year. The two masts are located in Fivemiletown and Boho in Co. Fermanagh. The project is set to conclude at the end of March. Early predictions from the group who won the contract to deliver the project, Arqiva, stated that 16 masts would be erected to service those living in mobile phone 'not spots'. In correspondence issued in advance of the closure of the project the group now states that only two will be completed.

Outraged local councillor Barry McNally has labelled the project an utter failure and said questions need to be asked of Arqiva and their competency after the multi-million-pound project failed to deliver even a single mast in the Omagh District and only two in the Fermanagh District:

"The Mobile Infrastructure Project was seen by local people as a potential lifeline and they hoped that it would address poor mobile phone coverage in the local area. However, it is undoubtedly an abject and utter failure and a squandering of a multi-million-pound project which simply hasn't delivered for this area. In the report Arqiva highlights 'complex transmission solutions' as a blockage for many of the proposed masts. This doesn't wash with local people. Arqiva would have been well aware that 'complex transmission solutions' would need to be used in each of the masts. The fact that there are a large number of not spots in the local area, which are hard to reach locations, highlights that a basic solution was not viable.

"In November of this year I had made contact with Arqiva to get an update on their project, with particular reference to the Mid Tyrone area. I was informed that a report would be made to the council in the coming months and prior to that no update was possible. I now know why no progress report was forthcoming: because there was no progress. This news will come as a huge disappointment to local people and businesses who will continue to suffer poor mobile phone coverage as a result of this failure."

Echoing concern was local MLA Barry McElduff:

"I am seriously concerned after learning of this development. Through my work as an MLA, I have recognised just how important the issue of telecommunications is locally. I will be raising this issue with the minister responsible, DETI minister Jonathon Bell. All too often DETI take their eye off the ball when it comes to telecommunications in rural areas. I will be asking questions of the minister, through ministerial questions in the assembly, as to what DETI intend to do to address this issue in light of the latest setback.