Smart Telecom hits out at Eircom’s ‘bundles’ battle

13 Feb 2009

Eircom’s decision to launch a judicial review against the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has raised the ire of broadband and telecoms provider Smart Telecom, which argues Eircom has an unfair advantage in the market.

Today, Eircom said it intended to fight a notice by ComReg to desist from selling bundles of broadband, phone services and free calls to its mobile subsidiary Meteor’s network for between between €45 and €60 a month, for its Talktime Family and Broadband products.

ComReg received a complaint that Eircom was using its dominance to drive customers to use services from its Meteor mobile subsidiary, which has 27pc of the mobile market.

ComReg this week announced that it believes Eircom’s prices for 1Mbps and 3Mbps Talktime Family and Broadband bundles are too low.

Eircom told today that it intends to launch a judicial review before the 30-day notice period ends.

In a statement Eircom said: “Eircom believes that ComReg’s efforts to force Eircom to increase its rates for the bundles in question are misguided and wrong. Eircom will fight for our right to compete and our customers rights to great services, and will pursue all avenues to ensure our customers can continue to avail of these bundles at competitive prices.”

However, regulatory director at Smart Telecom, John Quinn, questioned Eircom’s assertion that its bundles were good for competition. “Eircom is selling 1Mbps broadband for €9 in a bundle – yet charges operators €9.48 (€11.52 including VAT) at the wholesale rate. This is not good for competition and forces operators to sell at a loss.”

In addition, he said: “Eircom is ultimately providing the wholesale broadband element to O2 and others and, as such, is still getting the majority of the broadband revenue from the mobile operator.

“No other mobile operator in Ireland owns a fixed-line infrastructure-based network, unlike Eircom, which owns both the incumbent fixed-line network into all homes and businesses, and a mobile company, Meteor,” Quinn said.

By John Kennedy