Esat BT to lodge complaint over Eircom launch

23 Jan 2003

Following the launch of Eircom’s €54 a-month DSL service earlier today, rival operator Esat BT hit out at the incumbent for what it described as ‘anti-competitive’ behaviour and said it would be immediately lodging a formal complaint with telecoms regulator ComReg.

Esat BT has maintained that Eircom failed to offer it or any other licensed operator a wholesale version of the service before the retail launch, something that Eircom is obliged to do as part of its licensing terms as the incumbent operator. Eircom said in its announcement that it was “finalising” the pricing of its wholesale bitstream equivalent.

Speaking with, Una McGirr, communications manager at Esat BT, said that the launch of another DSL service was good from a consumer perspective but “sucked” from an industry competitive point of view.

“It’s incumbent on [Eircom] to offer a wholesale service to all the other licensed operators, but they never did that.”

She added that, in launching the service, Eircom was simply mimicking Esat BT, which launched a €48.50 per month (plus Vat) DSL service before Christmas. However, the Esat service offers data download speeds of 256Kbps (kilobits per second), which is only half as fast at the new Eircom service.

To date, take-up of the Esat budget service had been slow, McGirr said, which suggested that at that price DSL is still too expensive for the majority of Irish consumers. She said the company wanted to offer a cheaper service but could not do so at the current wholesale rates offered by Eircom.

“We have called for €20-a-month DSL service and a maximum connection charge of €100. It would be economic for us to provide a service at this price if we get a good wholesale price from Eircom. We can’t offer a cheaper service because we don’t have the economies of scale of Eircom. As far as we’re concerned it’s anti-competitive.”

She added that Eircom had continually stonewalled Esat BT’s attempts to negotiate a fair wholesale rate. “The last offer they made to us was in early 2002 when the offer was €57 per port and €375 per connection.”

By Brian Skelly