ComReg warns Eircom over wholesale obligations, threatens High Court order

23 Dec 2012

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Ireland’s telecoms watchdog ComReg has issued Eircom with a notice for not complying with agreed service levels to other telecoms operators. Eircom has been given five weeks to comply or ComReg may apply to the High Court for an order to ensure it complies.

On Friday ComReg revealed that Eircom has not complied with its non-discrimination obligations as set out in Section 6 ComReg decision D07/61 in 2007.

It found that Eircom was repairing a higher percentage of retail faults compared to wholesale faults.

It added that wholesale line issues were being dealt with up to four days after companies informed Eircom there was an issue between August 2011 and August 2012.

In order to sell broadband services, other operators like Vodafone, Magnet and Digiweb enter into a wholesale arrangement with Eircom whereby they would buy the right to access a local loop and sell broadband as bitrate DSL.

Separate to this they could pay to “unbundle” the local loop and access a local area by putting their own equipment into the local exchange.

By failing to fix issues with broadband lines in the same period as it was repairing faults for its retail customers Eircom was placing itself at an advantage over its competitors.

ComReg has given Eircom five weeks to comply under Regulation 19 of the European Communities (electronic communications networks and services) Regulations 2011.

If it hasn’t met its obligations by that stage ComReg said it may apply to the High Court for an order to ensure Eircom complied.

In recent weeks ComReg issued Eircom with a €525,000 fine for failing to meet customer service targets as set down by ComReg in its Universal Service Obligation (USO) agreement.

Wholesale reform at Eircom

However, if current signals from Eircom are anything to go by the matter may not go to the High Court. In an interview with Siliconrepublic.com in recent weeks Eircom’s new CEO Herb Hribar said that the company planned to embark on a wholesale reform strategy.

“We have embraced a concept called ‘wholesale reform’ and we have a standalone wholesale division that is outwardly faced to the other operators in Ireland,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.

“We strive to deliver them with the reports on how we’re performing so they can measure us and how well we are doing and we prepare action plans on how we are going to get better and we listen to them in terms of what they want us to deliver.

“We have a strong pipeline of sales in that division in terms of as we look out of over €70m of opportunity of qualified prospects so we really embrace the idea of wholesale reform and supporting the other operators and making sure they are successful and we look at them more as a distribution channel than as competitors.”

In related news Eircom on Friday announced the appointment of the former CEO of ESB Padraig McManus as its new chairman. McManus takes over from outgoing chairman Ned Sullivan.

Telecoms line image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com