Labour slams EU comms laws

28 Jul 2003

New EU electronic and communications networks and services regulations “will do little to end the great mobile phone rip-off in Ireland”, the Labour Party spokesperson on Communications, Tommy Broughan TD has said.

The new EU regulatory package, that was signed into Irish law by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Dermot Ahern TD last week, is designed to bring current community legislation on electronic communications into line with changes taking place in the telecommunications, media and IT sectors.

“The very belated introduction under the directive of mobile number portability will end one of the biggest scams in the history of the mobile phone market where operators manipulated customer inertia to gouge small businesses especially who were reluctant to change all their stationery and business addresses,” Broughan claimed.

“Given that the mobile market is a duopoly between Vodafone and O2, it is incredible that it has taken this long for the minister to approve regulations designating operators as having significant market share and enforcing competitive obligations on such markets,” he added.

Broughan welcomed the new, more flexible penalty regime within which ComReg will be able to operate, but said the regulation of appropriate financial penalties on anti-competitive operations is vague and uncertain.

“What Dermot Ahern needed to do, after his 14 months of lethargy on this issue, was to introduce strong new legislation, strengthening the competition powers of ComReg to a level comparable to Oftel’s in the UK. For whatever reason Dermot Ahern steadfastly refuses to do this. In the meantime Irish mobile users, 85pc of the population, will continue to be ripped-off in a spectacular fashion with pay-as-you-go phones, unintelligible accounts and the licence to print money that roaming charges represent,” Broughan concluded.

By Lisa Deeney