Telcos accuse Eircom of misleading regulator


2 Jul 2004

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A telecoms industry group has accused Eircom of taking “deliberate” action to mislead the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) and impose a large cost to other licensed telecom operators, in relation to access charges for Eircom’s network. The group has called for a wholesale price cap to reduce access charges in line with inflation next year.

Industry lobby group ALTO (Alternative Licensed Telecommunications Operators) made the statement in relation to a recent meeting between Eircom and ComReg at which new access charges information cancelled out a €1.7m refund due to other licensed operators.

According to ALTO, each year Eircom makes a submission to ComReg outlining the cost of maintaining and developing its national telecoms network. The submission is then used by ComReg to set prices for access to Eircom’s network for other operators.

In December, Eircom provided data to ComReg that would have resulted in extra payments of up to €4m from other operators to Eircom.

Following a review of the submission, ComReg recommended a refund from Eircom to other operators of €1.7m. However, at a meeting between Eircom and the regulator on 9 June, Eircom produced new pricing information that cancelled out the €1.7m refund.

ALTO chairman Iarla Flynn commented: “This sequence of events is disturbing. We are gravely concerned at what has happened, particularly, as there was a similar incident in December 2003.

“ComReg itself has questioned whether this was a ‘deliberate’ action by Eircom to mislead the regulator and impose a large cost on other operators.

“ComReg needs to simplify these matters by introducing a wholesale price cap, which would reduce all access charges in line with inflation each year.

“ComReg has already accepted this idea in principle, now is the time to deliver. The new approach should also provide for a significant penalty on Eircom for any delay in providing data or any attempt to increase charges retrospectively,” Flynn concluded.

By John Kennedy