Eir taking ComReg to High Court over fault repair demands

3 Mar 2017

Eir service van. Image: William Murphy/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Eir is taking legal proceedings against ComReg over the latter’s demand that Eir should fix line faults within 24 hours or face paying compensation.

Since breaking off as a semi-State body, Eir has remained liable for maintaining telcos across the country. This includes maintenance and upkeep, with an additional requirement to send crews to fix faults as soon as possible.

However, a new obligation brought in by telecoms regulator ComReg threatens to heap considerable pressure on Eir to get line faults fixed in a shorter space of time, or face giving compensation to its competitors.

According to The Irish Times, the State regulator has set an obligation that Eir must now fix all line faults within a period of 48 hours and if this target is not met, it must pay service credit to the companies also using its network.

The decision by ComReg comes after network operators in Ireland including Sky, Magnet and Vodafone complained to the regulator that Eir was falling behind the average repair times in the EU.

Under the existing obligation, Eir was required to fix only 77pc of line faults within a period of two days, and no less than 92pc over a period of five days.

The original decision to force the company to fix the lines in a shorter time period was decided by ComReg last January, but no agreement was reached between Eir and its rivals over how much the former should compensate the latter when faults exceed two days.

‘ComReg has overstepped its boundaries’

“Eir believes that ComReg has overstepped its boundaries in making its determination,” the company said in a statement.

“The company believes ComReg has imposed new obligations beyond what the regulator is empowered to impose and outside the scope of the dispute.

“It is with regret that Eir has had no option but to challenge the determination through the High Court against what we believe to be an arbitrary and unjustified decision.”

The Alternative Operators in the Communications Market (ALTO) group that represents the other network providers in Ireland has responded, expressing its disappointment in Eir’s decision and claiming that customers are likely to suffer in the short term.

The clock is now ticking for Eir – it has until 21 March to issue a formal response to ComReg’s ruling.

What’s more, ComReg has accused Eir of non-compliance with regard to giving its competitors access to customer addresses.

ComReg claimed that it failed in this obligation 27 times and that its rivals believe Eir has had an unfair advantage in the market.

Eir service van. Image: William Murphy/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic