Missing you already

IrelandOffline would like to take this opportunity to express its disappointment at the removal of Minister Rabbitte from the Department of Communications.

Initially we were skeptical, as when Minister Rabbitte took over it seemed like business as usual, recycling old Press releases and statements, however the Minister seemed to get to grips with the position after a time. This is unusual as most Ministers in a difficult technical area like communications do not seem to comprehend even the basics. However Minister Rabbitte DID get to grips with many of the issues (but not all)

Minister Rabbitte achieved two important transformations while in office:

  • He was in office to see the reassignment or departure of an extremely detrimental cadre of officials within the Department of Communications.
  • Secondly, with those personnel changes in place, he liberated communications development policy from its fascination with mobile networks as a panacea for all connectivity. As a result he appears to have set it on a the much more visionary and sustainable path of universal fibre deployment, while giving mobile its proper place…mobility.

However in an interesting development the DECNR introduced Mark II version of the National Broadband Plan which is essentially the opposite of what was originally proposed in August 2012. No-one seems to know why.

We would also take issue with the conduct of the spectrum auctions of November 2012. The shameless cash grab that characterised ComReg’s handling of that auction has meant that most of the national territory will not have regulated coverage in voice, text or data for the foreseeable future. Minister Rabbitte could have issued direction to the regulator to change course, but chose not to. The wretched Rural Broadband Scheme and the circumstances surrounding the Galway Mayo Duct hopefully represent the last of the old cynicism and mendacity that have featured in that department.

We do not generally applaud Ministers for Communications, and the concrete expression of his policy changes is still a long way off, but there is reason to hope that communications is now being treated and funded as an essential, universal public utility, and that in future the whole country can enjoy the fruits of his “Labour”s and move forward in equal step.

We sincerely thank him for his dedicated service to the country and wish him luck in the future. Thanks Pat we think you did a good job.

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