Vital new powers giving the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) the ability to fine telecom operators 10pc of turnover or €5m have been signed into law.
Eamon Ryan TD, the new Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has signed a regulation creating new offences for non-compliance with decisions of ComReg.
He also increased the penalties that companies will receive for failing to abide by ComReg decisions to 10pc of turnover or €5m.
The new regulations are effective as of 29 June last.
“These increased penalties and offences give ComReg the essential powers to ensure that its decisions are enforced in the marketplace,” Minister Ryan said.
“This power is vital if we are to build a vibrant telecoms market, with increased choice and value for consumers. Importantly, I have also introduced penalties which can be imposed on continuous offences, ensuring that any decisions made by the Regulator will be quickly enforced.”
The regulations amend the existing Access, Authorisation and Universal Service Regulations, which are part of a regulatory pack transposing EU telecoms law and provide for the creation of indictable offences, with extensive fines for serious infringements of the regulatory framework.
Provision was made in the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007 to enable the amending regulations to be made.
The changes follow other changes to the framework regulations, which introduced increased penalties, abolished the Electronic Communications Appeals Panel (ECAP) appeals process and moved appeals against ComReg to the High Court.
“Without the ability to effectively enforce their decisions, ComReg cannot implement the requirements of its regulations in an effective and timely manner, especially when faced with non-compliance,” Minister Ryan continued.
“The regulations that I am announcing today will equip the regulator with the tools necessary to deliver on its objectives.
“Enforcement is key,” he emphasised. “This is an important step towards enabling fair and open competition and ultimately tapping some of enormous growth potential in this communications sector.”
By John Kennedy