ComReg: The problem to telecoms solutions in Ireland

ComReg are the telecoms regulator in Ireland. Their job is to make competition in telecoms healthy which should result in better offers and great pricings.

Recently they had another consultation and decided that eircom’s wholesale price for a wholesale broadband product (we’ll call it that for now) needed to come down in price. This was an extensive consultation and was really drawn out. So they decided on a new price. All the competition of eircom said “Yay”. But eircom didn’t like it and went to Court about it, which they are well entitled to do.

Even before they went to Court, ComReg’s own staffers were fairly open in thinking eircom would win in Court. But the Courts are on holiday now so we’ll all have to wait. Except we don’t.

ComReg have now decided their very extensive and detailed consultation and deeply considered consultation was in fact bollox. See, here’s the trick to ComReg, bring em to Court and you own them. They always give up. They always settle on the steps. Settling normally means negotiating but ComReg again and again just throw it all away. Here they decided to reverse another of their decisions and it cost 5 Million in legal fees as they had to pay their costs and the costs of o2, Vodafone and Meteor.

Which is what they did yesterday.

Citing the cost of contesting the appeal, the resources it would have to devote to it and the probability a judgment would not be delivered “until well into 2009”, ComReg said yesterday it had “decided to set aside its decision”.

The new price directed by the regulator was an interim one and would have been in place for a year. “A more detailed expert analysis has been furnished to ComReg since the announcement of the interim price which will enable a process whereby ComReg can propose a specific and substantive price to the market in place of the benchmark price previously proposed,” ComReg said in a statement.

More here. Magnet the only telco to give out about it.

I keep calling ComReg the telecoms poodle. Someone needs to put this mange riddled creature down after years of failures.

Apricot Miniature Poodle
Photo owned by charkesw (cc)

Heads should roll for either them being totally incorrect on the initial consultation or being devoid of testicular fortitude to fight this out in Court.

Update: I see once again that the Consumers’ Association (who are on the payroll of ComReg by the way) have blamed eircom for this. More misguided bullshit from them:

Dermot Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, has called on the European Commission to intervene if necessary.

“Comreg is being frustrated by one provider just because it’s in a position to do so,” he said. “There are other players out there ready to roll up their sleeves and get competitive and this is just another stumbling block for them.”

13 Responses to “ComReg: The problem to telecoms solutions in Ireland”

  1. If there is one agency that needed to be rationalised / blended / abolished it is ComReg. Given that eircom is having its own B&B problems right now and are in a weak position, wouldn’t you think that ComReg would want to show some spine, if only to justify to the Minister that they’re worth funding?

    Or are we past this time?

  2. Legal fees burn a lot of the budget and to what real benefit for consumers? The Irish legal system allows for nothing like an American class action suit and I think that’s about the only way you’re going to work around the failure of legal challenges in this regard.

  3. Dermot says:

    Interesting to compare and contrast approaches.

    On the page opposite the ComReg story in todays Irish Times it reports that Joe Meade the Financial Services Ombudsman has “initiated an appeal in the Supreme Court against a High Court judgment that quashed his ruling in a complaint by Enfield Credit Union against Davy stockbrokers”

    ComReg isn’t so much a Poodle as a Jellyfish – no spine.

  4. Brian Kenny says:

    Magnet are by far the leading provider. Fair play to them for standing up to the fact that ComReg can’t follow through.

  5. TheChrisD says:

    Magnet FTW 🙂

  6. cgarvey says:

    Don’t have the “money to defend”, or don’t have the confidence in the initial expenseive consultation, I wonder?

    Morally blaming eircom, like the CA is, is just embarrassing.

    So, once again, ComReg have wasted a nice chunk of money on a consultation that has led to an incorrect decision. Will they be brought to task over it? No, I didn’t think so.

  7. Des says:

    @Dermot – jellyfish can sting so maybe ameoba would be a better description ?

    Fair boulds to eircom – they have it sussed : each time they get an unfavourable decision they say “let’s meet in court”and Comreg back down.

  8. Mark Kellett, Magnet CEO here.

    Well it’s fair to say that we’re (Magnet) Very disappointed by decision to rescind the Line Share pricing directive. This decision is the result of an continued focus by Eircom to “try” to kill off competition and innovation in the market in an attempt to maintain cashflow.

    There are number of very concerning aspects to the general operation of the market as I see it, eg;

    a) The recently published performance stats around eircoms service delivery showing a deterioration in meeting SLA’s. This poor performance is not a one off but a trend and typical of underinvestment in the core asset/operational base. This does not bode well for businesses looking to invest in Ireland and in particular to invest outside of the digital divide.
    b) The overall challenge of predatory pricing that eircom engage in. I refer to the LLU/Bitsream debacle that most observers missed as a critical issue. I’ll explain in more detail if you want.
    c) Stranded assets: I have called for the opening up of stranded assets owned by the state, eg CIE fibre. One of the challenges in expanding the business (connectivity) in Ireland is the cost of backhaul and yet we sit on an asset like CIE’s fibre and do nothing.

    One important point for observers to note:

    1) Eircom have not been active or have taken a position on the Fibre to The Home market. Magnet on the other hand have been very active in this space and as a result we now have the largest FTTH operation in either the UK or Ireland with the fastest Broadband speeds on par with the best in the world. We have plans to continue to increase the speeds along with a broadening of the triple play offering. The UK (BT) are only now talking about launching an FTTH trial in Ebbsfleet this month.

    Is there therefore an inverse correlation between Eircom and Innovation/advancement in the market?

    2) That despite the issues above, we will continue in our efforts to drive on with new and innovative product offerings.

  9. TheChrisD says:

    Faster FTTH? Sweet 😀
    I just hope it comes packaged with more digital TV channels 😉

  10. testicular fortitude!! 😀 Love It! That’s going on the list of key phrases!!

  11. barry says:

    >>But eircom didn’t like it and went to Court about it, which they are well entitled to do.<<

    Yes, if you take the lawyer route….all lawyers say that sort of thing.

    eircom was a state owned monopoly privatised to raise money which has since been squandered and Comreg was set up to regulate the consequent mess…. IMO they have NO right to the courts per se, they continue to be the monopoly supplier in many areas and act accordingly. ComReg has had a number of ‘improvements’ to its legislation to enable it to kick ass but choses not to use it. In fact the company regulator should be called in to sue eircom for abuse of a dominant poition.

    Bye, Barry

  12. Barry says:

    “Incumbent operators maintained their share of the retail broadband market across Europe with some 47pc of all connections – a figure that has remained static for two years running – raising questions as to whether competition is actually working.”

    Sort of proves my point, doesn’t it. If the average is 47% where the f***k is eirocm in the line-up??