Legal landmark as Eir reaches €3m settlement with ComReg

11 Dec 2018310 Views

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Image: © Olivier Le Moal/Stock.adobe.com

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Wide-ranging deal between Eir and ComReg aims to bring an end to litany of legal battles.

Eir has agreed to pay a €3m fine to settle a case taken against it last year by ComReg over allegations it favoured its own retail division when it came to granting access and repairing lines.

The operator has also agreed to place €9m in an escrow account that ComReg can access as well as allowing ComReg inspectors to base themselves within Eir to monitor its internal structures.

‘This will allow us to concentrate on our key strategic plans, most importantly our ongoing investment of €1bn in our networks’
– CAROLAN LENNON

In addition to all of this, Eir has agreed to strengthen the independence of Open Eir’s management.

ComReg had originally sought a €10m penalty over allegations that Eir granted more favourable access to the Open Eir wholesale network instead of following the spirit of deregulation and keeping its wholesale and retail arms apart. Eir had contested these claims and sued the State in a dispute over the legal basis of the ComReg case.

New owner, new approach

Since the case was taken, French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel’s NJJ-led consortium acquired a majority stake in Eir, giving the company an enterprise value of €3.5bn. It appears Niel wants to draw a line under the never-ending legal battles and start afresh with a new approach.

In recent weeks, Eir revealed a plan to invest €1bn to transform its infrastructure, including converting 1.4m homes that were fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) to fibre-to-the home (FTTH), as well as a €150m plan to bring 4G to 99pc geographic coverage and kick-start the first of the company’s 5G networks in key cities.

In an interview with Siliconrepublic.com recently, Eir CEO Carolan Lennon said that Niel’s NJJ has brought new philosophies and methodologies around business and technology to Eir.

By next year, the company will have close to 2m homes connected to fibre, and will have expanded its 4G network and commenced its 5G network roll-out.

Lennon said that Eir welcomed the agreement with ComReg and the settling of outstanding issues with the regulator. “This will allow us to concentrate on our key strategic plans, most importantly our ongoing investment of €1bn in our networks.

“While we have significantly enhanced our regulatory governance in recent years, with many of today’s provisions already in place, we appreciate the importance of transparency.

“We therefore welcome the further confidence that the independent oversight will give industry and ComReg that Eir’s regulatory governance is robust and effective,” Lennon added.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com