ComReg threatens Eircom with court action over LLU

3 Feb 2005

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has threatened Eircom with possible legal action if the telco does not comply with a directive to report on the issue of local-loop unbundling (LLU), a process seen as essential to the rollout of broadband in Ireland.

Eircom has been called to an industry meeting tomorrow at which it must provide an update of its progress in responding to other telecoms operators’ requests for developing LLU products and the processes that support it. If it does not attend, ComReg intends to apply to the High Court for an order directing compliance. The court order may also include or suggest the alternative of financial penalties as appropriate.

LLU is the process of giving alternative operators access to Eircom telephone exchanges to install equipment allowing them to provide customers with services directly over the ‘last mile’ of phone lines without having to use part of Eircom’s own network.

On 18 January the regulator issued a decision notice requiring the former state telco to provide an update on the LLU issue. According to ComReg, a meeting had originally been set for last Tuesday but this did not take place. “It became clear to ComReg that Eircom did not intend to address the relevant matters covered by that decision notice,” ComReg said in a statement.

Telecoms lobby group IrelandOffline endorsed ComReg’s action, calling the directive “strong and blunt”. Damien Mulley, chairman of IrelandOffline, said: “We fully support this strong move from ComReg to remedy the serious LLU issues in Ireland. The compliance order from ComReg is demonstrating to the consumer that the regulator is now willing to go as far as is necessary to give everyone a better chance of availing of quality broadband for all.”

The group welcomed what it called “a more proactive attitude” on the regulator’s part in recent months. IrelandOffline has called for a more transparent LLU process for some time. It claimed that competing telecoms companies had been unable to avail of LLU due to high costs involved in obtaining access and equipment space in telephone exchanges.

By Gordon Smith