Eircom asked to explain ‘white label’ telecoms service

11 Jul 2008

The existence of a white label telecoms service provided by Eircom’s wholesale division has aroused the curiosity of telecoms regulator ComReg, which has given the incumbent 30 days to publish more information for the market on the service.

The wholesale market in Ireland, while not as developed as some European telecoms markets such as the UK, has clearly defined structures around call origination, call transit and call termination between operators.

As the significant market player (SMP), Eircom is obliged under ComReg Decision Notices D 04/07 and 06/07.2 to publish details of wholesale products in these areas to ensure transparency and a fair and level competitive telecoms market.

However, having learned of the existence of what it terms a ‘white label’ telecoms product that contained elements of call origination, transit and termination, ComReg launched an investigation in June.

The product allows another operator to purchase end-to-end call services from Eircom, without having to own its own infrastructure.

“This is functionally the same as Eircom offering a wholesale white label version of its own retail PSTN product,” ComReg said in a notice.

In other words, another telecoms company can simply resell Eircom’s fixed-line service under its own brand.

The analysis revealed Eircom hasn’t updated its reference interconnect offer to other operators with terms and conditions as well as prices.

By failing to publish terms and conditions, Eircom is not in compliance with its transparency obligations as a SMP.

ComReg has given Eircom a month to remedy the charge of non-compliance and says it will continue to study the white label service and assess its compliance or otherwise “with other relevant regulatory obligations including non-discrimination and price control.”

Eircom’s response when the 30 days are up should prove to be an interesting test of ComReg’s mettle since it was given extra powers to fine operators under the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007. Included in the act is the ability to fine an operator found to be at fault up to 10pc of turnover.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years