2
Jan
2005

100M [EURO] DEAL WILL PUT MOBILE PHONE MASTS ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS

This update transcribed below on the Irish Government's decision to have masts placed on Irish public buildings made front page news in the IRISH INDEPENDENT --which claims to be "Ireland's Best-Selling Daily Newspaper"--on Friday 31 December 2004.

Best, Imelda, Cork


100M [EURO] DEAL WILL PUT MOBILE PHONE MASTS ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS [by] Tom Felle

Mobile phone masts are to be erected on many State-owned buildings under a 100m [euro] deal expected to be announced in the New Year.

The Government is expected to get a 10M [EURO] windfall each year for the next 10 years under the deal negotiated by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Junior Finance Minister Tom Parlon confirmed last night that negotiations were at an advanced stage. "The deal is all but done," he said. "We have appointed outside consultants Vilicom to evaluate what the deal is worth. They are negotiating on our behalf with the mobile phone and 3G operators."

Mr. Parlon said that there was a built-in incentive for Vilicom to get the best value for money for the State when doing deals. Operators would be required to share masts, and the deals would be open to all competitors he said. Up until now only Garda [Irish Police] stations were used by mobile phone companies. Masts were erected on Garda masts in exchange for free phones for gardai.

Under the new deal, the OPW has agreed to sell space to mobile phone and other telecoms companies to erect masts on all susitable State-owned Property.

The Public Accounts Committee heard before Christmas that the Garda deal--which originally expected to make money for the state--was actually costing around 750,000 [euro] a year. A five year deal with Esat, now O2, was expected to be worth around 2m [euro] a year, however the cost of phone calls made by gardai was much more.

Mr Parlon said he was determined to get "the best value for money" for the State, insisting the deal would "cost nothing".

While the move is set to make millions for the state coffers, it is likely that heritage and other groups will oppose it. Mobile phone masts are a huge issue in many local communities nationwide.

It is understood that new smaller type masts are to be used, hidden away from public view. Some of the masts will need planning permission, however some may be exempt.

Broadcast broadband internet operators and other mobile operators may also be able to use the technology.
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