Sunday 22 September 2019

Cheaper broadband may be on the way after Eir is forced into price cuts

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Cheaper broadband may be on the way for those who use phone lines to get it.

Comreg has imposed a broadband price cut on Eir to try to encourage more competition in the industry.

The telecoms regulator today announced a 15pc cut (from €23 to €19.54) on the price that Eir can charge other operators on one of its key broadband offerings.

Eir owns all of the copper phone lines in the country, which still make up the majority of the broadband used here.

There has been tension between the company and rival operators over the prices that Eir charges to resell broadband over its network. By law, Eir has to offer access to rivals, but competitors such as Vodafone and Sky have long complained that it is too expensive and is stopping them from expanding their services.

A spokesman for Eir said that the company is currently studying the price cuts.

“We welcome the publication of these decisions and are reviewing the documentation,” he said.

A spokesman for rival operators welcomed the decision.

“ALTO sincerely hopes that ComReg’s decisions can be implemented swiftly to the benefit of the consumer and the industry and that lengthy and unnecessary court appeals can be avoided,” said Ronan Lupton, chairman of the Alternative Operators (Alto).

“We remain concerned that various incorrect narratives surrounding high speed broadband connection costs, demand and aspects of wireless substitution that have been spun in recent weeks do not gain any traction.”

Meanwhile, Comreg Commissioner Jeremy Godfrey said that the telecoms watchdog may not be finished reviewing broadband pricing yet.

“ComReg will be closely monitoring market developments to ensure that consumers can benefit in terms of the price, choice and quality of fixed broadband services,” he said.

“These wide-ranging decisions, which are the culmination of detailed reviews, in consultation with industry and other stakeholders, will continue to provide regulatory certainty for all market players and set the necessary conditions for sustainable competition and ongoing network investment.”

The move comes as the government prepares to publish an audit report into the National Broadband Plan, commissioned over a month ago after the resignation of Communications Minister Denis Naughten.

The report could determine whether the government proceeds with the state-backed project, which aims to connect 540,000 rural homes and businesses with workable broadband.

In recent weeks, targeted media leaks from the government have indicated opposition in some ministerial circles to proceeding with the process.

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