Monday 26 August 2019

Eir makes court bid to force cost sharing


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Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

EIR has lodged a court action in a bid to try and compel rival telcos to pay into an industry fund that would pay for rural telephone infrastructure.

Eir says its obligations cost €10m a year while others are getting a free ride. The appeal is against a decision of Comreg, the telecoms regulator, not to require other firms to contribute to such a fund.

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Eir's 'universal service obligation' requires the former monopoly to maintain unprofitable poles and infrastructure in rural and remote areas.

The system was put in place decades ago to ensure isolated areas have access to basic infrastructure. Eir says rivals such as Vodafone and Sky benefit by being able to offer services on the infrastructure.

It wants them to contribute to a general industry fund that would meet the costs of maintaining such infrastructure.

Comreg has rejected Eir's position. It says costs are reasonable for it to bear in the overall context of Eir's regulatory position. The issue, a long-running one between Eir and Comreg, may also be affected by the provision of a National Broadband Plan rural fibre network, which is to connect almost every isolated rural home. "

Eir believes that it is unfair that it alone shoulders the cost of providing this essential service. It asked ComReg to create a fund to ensure the costs of these services are shared across other major operators... "according to their profitability and market share," an Eir spokesman said.

"Eir invests more in its infrastructure each year than all of its competitors combined, having invested €1.5bn of its own capital in the last five years and committed a further €500m to broadband over the next five years. We believe that our main competitors, which are multinational companies much larger and more profitable than Eir, should also contribute to the costs of meeting this essential service."

Irish Independent

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