ComReg seeks public help with telecoms framework


25 Feb 2003

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The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has invited consumers to voice their opinion on telecoms services as part of its consultative process aimed at creating a new regulatory environment under the new European Telecoms Framework, which comes into being in July this year.

The process, which will take place over the next six weeks until the end of April, comes about through EU directives on universal service and end user’s rights.

ComReg says it wants to create a telecoms market that can ensure that consumers can obtain and understand tariff information and the terms and conditions of their contract, can access information on operators’ quality of service levels and can understand an operator’s complaint-handling procedure.

“Up until now, most consumers could only vent their frustration through letters to newspapers or by tackling the telecom companies themselves. This way they can say what changes they believe should be made to make for a fair market,” a spokeswoman for ComReg told siliconrepublic.com.

A similar process is also under way with businesses and the telecoms companies, she said.

“We don’t get as much feedback from the public as we would like. All of these issues affect the end users who pay for the various services, so it is important to get the balance right,” she added.

ComReg, she explained, aims to create an environment where consumers will have access to a simple and inexpensive dispute resolution procedure if they are unhappy with how their complaint has been handled once they’ve exhausted an operator’s complaint-handling procedure.

This will be vital, the spokesperson added, when wholesale line rental and carrier pre-select comes into the market at the end of April. Carrier pre-select will allow individuals to pay for line rental and phone calls with alternative telecoms providers, instead of solely with Eircom as it stands currently. Under the present system, residential or business customers of alternative providers receive two bills, one from Eircom for line rental and a second bill from the alternative provider. Under the new carrier pre-select system, customers will receive only one phone bill.

“With the advent of wholesale line rental in April, it will open up the market up for considerable competition. For example, the Department of Social Welfare provides a free telephone allowance for disabled people. Alternative operators such as Esat BT will be able to pitch the Department of Social Welfare for this business,” the spokeswoman said.

By John Kennedy