Regulator hints at action over slow progress on LLU

24 Nov 2006

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is considering “further interventions” to move the on local loop unbundling (LLU) process forward in the face of slow progress on some issues,

According to the latest status update on LLU from the telecoms regulator, some progress is being made but there are issues still to be resolved and Eircom is not acting to resolve these quickly enough. ComReg said the issues include a continued low level of fault repairs, “significant problems” in order provisioning and limitations on the ability to migrate from one service provision to another.

These problems “pose serious challenges for other operators and their ability to meet the needs of their customers”, ComReg said in the report, adding that it believes it has given “more than sufficient time and support” to enable outstanding matters to be resolved commercially. As a result, it is considering what further interventions may be needed to move the process forward.

LLU is the process by which alternative telecoms operators get access to equipment in Eircom exchanges. In doing so, they can offer their own broadband and telecoms services to customers instead of simply reselling a set of services that Eircom provides on a wholesale basis. The three operators involved the process are BT, Magnet Networks and Smart Telecom.

In the report, ComReg said it was concerned that the delivery performance metrics provided under the service level agreement do not reflect the experience of using LLU. In one instance, based on data submitted by Eircom and a second operator, up to 30pc of customer orders were found to have been rejected.

Commenting on the report, Charlie Ardagh, director of communications at Magnet Networks, said: “The growth of broadband take-up in Ireland is based on the effectiveness of local loop unbundling and how customers experience the ordering and fault resolution process. It is now apparent from this update from ComReg that their processes fall far short of what consumers need and deserve.”

He called on ComReg and the Minister for Communications to take direct action to ensure that the necessary improvements are made immediately and that road blocks preventing progress are removed. “Minister Dempsey publicly committed to having new legislation in place before the next election. We need an exact date as to when he expects this to be in place along with a framework to resolving these issues as the regulatory system is too weak as it stands,” Ardagh added.

Damien Mulley, chairman of the consumer lobby group IrelandOffline, was similarly displeased with the lack of progress. “Another month, another very disappointing report,” he told Mulley said that ComReg needs to do more than “casually report on the progress of LLU”. “Judging by the snail-paced resolving of the countless LLU issues it is going to be years and not months before the consumer will benefit from the competition that LLU will generate,” he added.

The regulator is to issue a further status update just before Christmas, on 19 December.

By Gordon Smith