New access rules could drive broadband investment

13 Jun 2008

New proposals by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to expand the definition of wholesale unbundled access to include not just DSL but fibre will incentivise alternative providers to expand their local loop unbundled footprint, has learned.

A consultation document issued by ComReg yesterday decided that DSL now accounts for 60pc of broadband in Ireland and that Eircom has 70pc of all DSL connections.


Therefore, other broadband providers in the market, ComReg said, do not pose a threat to Eircom as the significant market power.


As a result, ComReg has suggested that the wholesale unbundled access to Eircom’s network should not just include DSL broadband but other network methods, including fibre and future next-generation networks which the incumbent may deploy.


As well as this, Eircom may not close down any of its unbundled exchanges without giving five years notice to operators that have put equipment in the exchange.


John Quinn, regulatory affairs manager at Smart Telecom, said the proposals create a “technology neutral environment” that will encourage alternative licensed operators to invest.


“This will put Ireland in line with other European countries and means that the access network is not just copper but future fibre networks,” Quinn observed. He also said the consultation is of great relief to operators with substantial investments in LLU.


Smart Telecom has unbundled 37 exchanges around Ireland, giving it access to 500,000 potential subscribers.


As a result of the move by ComReg, the company said it intends to “dramatically increase” its LLU coverage, as well as its own next-generation network.


To celebrate the news, the company has introduced a new 1Mbps uncontended broadband package that will cost just €7.64 a month.


“We view this development as very encouraging … a first step in the right direction. The development touches on every element of the access network, whether to access future digital networks or within the exchanges. This could bring Ireland well in line with other European countries,” Quinn said.


By John Kennedy

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