Eircom to fight for right to carry mobile and broadband bundles

13 Feb 2009

Eircom has vowed to seek a judicial review ahead of a 30-day notice sought by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), requesting it to cease selling broadband and phone bundles that include landline calls to Meteor’s network at prices competitors claim are too low.

This week, ComReg decided that it believes Eircom’s prices for 1Mbps and 3Mbps Talktime Family and Broadband bundles are too low.

The bundles were launched in October and range in price between €45 and €60 a month.

It is understood that a market competitor complained to ComReg that Eircom – which has 70pc of the fixed-line market – was using its dominance to drive customers to use services from its Meteor mobile subsidiary, which has 27pc of the mobile market.

At the end of the 30-day notice period set by ComReg, the regulator can effectively seek an enforcement order from the High Court. It is clear Eircom intends to pre-empt such an action.

In a statement, the incumbent operator said: “Eircom launched these new bundles last October in response to similar bundles on offer from our competitors. Eircom has been mindful of its regulatory obligations in setting the prices for these bundles, and has reacted to the demands of Irish consumers for innovative services at reasonable prices.

“Eircom is acutely aware that consumers want good value for money, particularly in these very difficult economic times. That is precisely what the Talktime Family and Broadband Bundles aim to deliver. Eircom is confident that the bundles in question are lawfully priced, good for consumers and good for competition in an increasingly converging marketplace.”

A spokesman for Eircom told siliconrepublic.comthat the operator intends to seek a judicial review in advance of the 30-day deadline set by ComReg. “Bundles are the future of fixed telephony. We’re going to continue to sell the product, and will call for a judicial review without waiting for 30 days to complete.”

Fixed, mobile and broadband bundles are now standard across the international telecoms market, and locally both O2 and Vodafone are now active in the fixed-line telephony market through reseller deals with Eircom. It is arguably only a matter of time before these operators begin offering free calls to their respective networks.

In its statement, Eircom said that bundles combining fixed, mobile and broadband will be a reality going forward.

“Eircom believes thatComReg’s efforts to force Eircom to increase its rates for the bundles in question are misguided and wrong. Eircom will fight for our right to compete and our customers rights to great services, and will pursue all avenues to ensure our customers can continue to avail of these bundles at competitive prices.

“The principles at stake are critical, not only for Eircom and our existing Talktime Family and Broadband Bundle customers, but also for competition in the future as we move forward with the introduction of new bundles combining fixed, mobile, broadband and other services in a converged, competitive market,” Eircom said.

By John Kennedy