Irish farmers urge Govt not to allow urban-rural split of telecoms market

7 Feb 2013

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is the latest group to call for a block of proposals to create a two-tier telecoms market in Ireland. They warn that plans to allow Eircom to cut the price of telephone line rental in urban areas where it is competing with UPC must also include plans to cut line rental in rural areas.

IFA national treasurer JJ Kavanagh called on the Government to ensure that if a proposal by Eircom to drop the price of line rental in urban areas must also be implemented in rural areas.

Kavanagh was speaking after a meeting with Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD. was the first to report that the proposed changes could mean consumers in rural areas will be paying higher prices to subsidise cheaper but superior broadband services for consumers in urban areas.

The IFA outlined its concerns today that there would be any breach of the Government’s long-standing commitment on the universality of line rental costs for all Irish households.

“Eircom’s proposal, which is currently being considered by (regulator) ComReg, would mean that urban customers would pay €4 less per month. Since the establishment of our telecommunications network, there is a long-standing precedent that line rental charges would be the same for all homes.  

“Allowing such a move would create a two-tier system and is unacceptable to the 440,000 rural dwellers. The Government must ensure that any line reductions granted would apply to all customers, including rural homes,” Kavanagh said.

Rabbitte not in favour of two-tier system

Kavanagh said he welcomed Rabbitte’s comments that he was not in favour of a two-tier system and he would be expressing this view to ComReg.

Kavanagh concluded by saying IFA remains committed to ensuring that farmers and rural businesses have strong telecommunication solutions to allow them to compete nationally and internationally.

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