The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is planning to re-designate Eircom as the universal service provider (USP) for major telecoms infrastructure in Ireland.
Eircom had originally sought to have some of its obligations as a USP re-evaluated because it felt that market pressures and costs of being a USP were difficult to maintain.
In the run up to new EU directives on telecoms which come into place on 25 July, ComReg had issued a call for consultation on proposals as to how the universal service obligations (USO) could be better handled.
“Given Eircom’s market share, its network presence throughout the country and its considerable experience and ability in providing universal services, ComReg has signalled its intention to re-designate Eircom as the universal service provider. ComReg did consider whether a mobile operator could be designated as USP, but concluded that this is not currently feasible due to affordability and technical considerations”, the regulator said in a statement.
“The Commission will be seeking the consent of the Minister Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Dermot Ahern, on relevant aspects of the scope of the USO. Once this process is completed, ComReg will propose to formally designate Eircom as the USP.
“This would then require Eircom to develop a policy statement or customer charter regarding the provision of all services that fall within the scope of the USO”, the regulator said.
The obligations covered by Eircom include: provision of telephone installations throughout the State, provision of directory enquiry services and phone books, installation of public pay phones throughout the State and the provision of services to disabled users.
Chairperson of ComReg, Etain Doyle said: “Apart from providing greater clarity around Eircom’s specific obligations, it would result in increased transparency for consumers seeking access to these essential services. I am confident that the approach taken by ComReg will ensure that users become more aware of the telecommunications service entitlements and strengthen their position in their dealings with the universal service provider.”
By John Kennedy