Saturday 25 March 2017

Eir facing new fine for denying access to rival telecoms firms

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Eir (Stock photo)
Eir (Stock photo)

Eir faces the threat of several fines after Ireland’s telecoms regulator accused it of breaking the rules in its behaviour with rival telecoms firms.

The country’s biggest phone and broadband company was found to have breached five separate conditions with respect to how it interacts with industry competitors who are dependent on access to its inherited network.

These range from unjustifiable delays in access to wholesale line rental systems to discriminating against other operators with regard to fault repair times.

According to Comreg, Eir was found to have shown a lack of transparency in relation to how its services work and it failed to provide fault handling services and information to other operators “under the same conditions and of the same quality as the services and information that Eircom provided for or to itself”.

The telecoms regulator also says that Eir did not comply with “reasonable” requests by competitors in some circumstances.

“ComReg has decided to make an application to the High Court for a declaration of non-compliance and for an order that Eircom pay to ComReg an amount by way of financial penalty,” said a statement by Comreg in respect of the breaches.

The periods in question range variously from 2011 to 2015.

Eir’s head of wholesale operations, Carolan Lennon, was unavailable to comment on the rule breaches or on the telecom regulator’s determination.

However, in an interview with the Irish Independent this week, Ms Lennon dismissed charges that Eir discriminates against telecoms rivals.

“I can tell you categorically, that we do not treat our own retail arm any better than we treat the others,” she said. “There is absolutely no policy of deliberate behaviour around treating them differently.”

She said that such complaints were part of industry rivals “positioning themselves”.

“It’s competitive tension,” she said. “Wholesale has been a huge part of Eir’s growth,” she said. “So sometimes I think that the better you do, the more criticism you get. The National Broadband Plan is a part of it too. Everyone’s positioning themselves.”

A spokesman for Eir added: “Eir has rectified all of the issues. The access matter relating to lines with virtual private networks (VPNs) was resolved 23 months ago and the quality of supply for bitstream and line share was resolved 11 months ago. Eir remains fully engaged with Comreg on these matters and will continue to vigorously defend our position.”

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