Hundreds sign petition over lack of mobile phone coverage at Christmas

Whole swathes of the southwest were left without mobile phone coverage over Christmas, it has emerged.

Hundreds of people signed a petition in south Kerry and handed it to local TD Michael Healy-Rae, who is to raise the matter in the Dáil.

The areas worst hit included Blackwater near Kenmare, and the coastal area in south Kerry from Waterville to Castlecove, Caherdaniel, and Derrynane, alongside all of the Black Valley in the heart of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.

The problems had started in the past two months and had worsened, Mr Healy-Rae said, adding that all networks were affected.

Many households no longer had landlines and were at the mercy of mobile networks, he said.

“There are very few public telephone boxes available so people are left with nothing. They have not been able to contact family and friends all over Christmas. It’s a shame and a disgrace and it is outrageous in this day and age,” he said.

Stephanie Switzer, who lives in the Black Valley, said her mobile phone went down on Christmas Eve and only returned for a few hours on Thursday. Her teenager children were given phones for Christmas but “you might as well have given them a box”, she said.

Ms Switzer said her mobile provider told her the masts were being changed to provide for the 4G networks, but people in her area had no network at all.

“It’s inconvenient for me but it is extremely serious for elderly people who have no landline,” she said.

ComReg, the communications regulator, said it had raised this issue with the relevant mobile network operators on foot of complaints.

It said it had received 14 separate queries/complaints in relation to mobile network coverage issues in Co Kerry in the last quarter of 2012 to date.

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