ComReg gets tough on CPS


18 Jul 2003

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The instability of existing carrier pre-select (CPS) telephony options, as well as Eircom’s failure to implement single billing, has resulted in the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) undertaking a strategic review of the situation. The regulator has also outlined a variety of measures aimed at eliminating aggressive customer win-back strategies among warring telcos.

In a statement released yesterday, ComReg chairperson Etain Doyle announced a review of the situation with a consultation period ending on 12 August. Hitting out at the “general instability of CPS at this time”, Doyle said that the levels of CPS in Ireland are well below the EU average. “Churn levels are unsustainable and are seriously threatening the business case for CPS and both consumer and operator dissatisfaction with CPS is increasing,” she said.

As reported by siliconrepublic.com, there is growing frustration amongst alternative licensed telcos at Eircom’s failure to implement CPS single billing by the original 2 June deadline. CPS is seen as one of the key elements of competition among service and network providers in Ireland.

Single billing will enable alternative licensed operators to charge customers on one single bill instead of customers receiving a separate line rental bill from Eircom. Alternative providers such as Esat BT have also cited “aggressive win-back strategies” by Eircom has having a detrimental effect on their business. A spokesperson for Esat BT at the time said that win-back strategies are “ferociously aggressive” in the Irish marketplace. “For every 3,000 new customers we sign up, we lose 2,000 on churn.”

Etain Doyle added: “ComReg regards CPS as a critical means of ensuring the development of competition in Ireland. The current level of instability which is caused by very high levels of churn is damaging the business case for CPS. This is not in the interests of the consumer or the industry and we are therefore making proposals which will help to restore stability and growth.”

She presented three options aimed at amending the current win-back process in the CPS Code of Practice in Eircom’s Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO). The first option calls for a 12-month moratorium, or standstill, on all win-back activities for all operators that would be reviewed at the end of that period.

The second option suggests a shorter moratorium of four months, as well as a further four months “no contact period”, which would apply to all operators. The third and final option suggested calls for a four-month “no contact” period for all operators.

By John Kennedy