EU asks ComReg to switch off copper wire networks quicker

26 Sep 2023

Image: © Novodiastock/

In a letter to ComReg last week, the EU said it needs to phase out copper networks faster to make way for highspeed broadband.

The European Commission has expressed concerns about the speed at which ComReg, the communications regulator in Ireland, has been switching off out-of-date copper wire networks for phone and broadband services.

In a letter last week, the EU body told ComReg that it needs to speed up the process of switching off legacy copper networks in Ireland, which is a critical step in the timely and efficient roll-out of new, highspeed broadband networks across the country.

In response, ComReg has said it will make a final decision on the process for switching off the copper wire network within the next few weeks, according to a spokesperson.

“Copper Switch Off (CSO) will have a significant impact on the Irish telecommunications environment – impacting the services which [Eir] supplies to itself, the regulated access it is obliged to provide to competitors and it will also impact all end users – residential and commercial – who rely on regulated services delivered over [Eir’s] copper network,” ComReg said.

“As a consequence, ComReg has undertaken a commensurate level of engagement, with operators, industry and the public through a call for inputs and subsequent consultation.”

The EU letter was a response to rules proposed by ComReg for the switch-off earlier this year, which were sent to the European Commission as per EU rules. It marks the fourth time in three years the EU authorities have intervened to challenge ComReg’s approach to regulating Eir.

Ireland’s largest telecommunications operator, Eir, would be required to bear the entirety of  “non-standard connection costs” relating to the switch-off process under rules proposed by ComReg.

The Commission challenged this proposal and asked ComReg to “reassess the proportionality of this measure in light of the objectives of the [electronic communications] code”.

Eir CEO Oliver Loomes said that he looks forward to ComReg “progressing the CSO framework, taking full account of and addressing the European Commission’s serious concerns”.

“A fair and proportionate regulatory environment is absolutely critical to Eir’s highspeed fibre roll-out plan, and we urge ComReg to adopt the EU Commission recommendations in a timely and effective manner,” he said in a statement.

“An unfair or ineffective regulatory environment does not just impact on Eir, it will undermine the government’s digital connectivity strategy which aims to bring highspeed fibre broadband to every door by 2028.”

Eir, which connects more than 1m premises to its fibre broadband network, also urged the Government to boost Ireland’s regulatory environment, arguing that while ComReg is supposed to have three commissioners, one of the posts has been vacant for nearly two years.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic