The Merlin of Irish Telecoms: ComReg – Irish Telecoms Review 2006 Part 4

I bash ComReg any time I can. To be blunt, my view is that ComReg are a cancer on the Irish Telecoms market. I don’t think it is intentional but at the same time their capacity for constructing grand delusions means they do not believe they have caused great harm to Ireland even when obvious to everyone else. Their level of incompetence and arrogance, to me, is legendary, from causing diplomatic incidents to a director threatening to increase wholesale dialup prices because we pointed out he did not do review flat rate prices yearly when he had the power to do so. (Generally this means prices for flat rate dialup can come down, but this chap said they could go up if we really wanted a review.)

The new commissioner Mike Byrne was in the consumer section of ComReg when they finally defined functional Internet access to be something which should have been 28.8kbps minimum. Trouble is this definition had so many loopholes for eircom that they still don’t have to supply you with a phoneline that can give you 28.8kbps dialup speed to the Internet. “Best Effort” is all through the definition but “Best Effort” is not defined. See if it was above 28.8kbps it would also guarantee your line would pass a line test forb roadband and if it didn’t then eircom would be obliged to replace the line.

Some of the facts about the Irish Telecoms regulator:

  • Sanctioned line rental increases 3 times in 12 months so we are now 8 euros a month more expensive than the EU average.
  • The Irish telecoms regulator has never fined a telco.
  • Sent directives to o2 and Vodafone to allow in resellers, (MVNOs) got taken to court by the mobile giants and before the court case started, withdrew the directives and paid 5Million in legal costs to the mobile giants. Ultimately that money came from the consumer.
  • Sent directives to eircom to get LLU working. eircom appealed and ComReg tried to force them to carry out the directives before the appeal started. eircom took them to court (remember this is outside of the appeal) saying they can’t be forced to do something they’re appealing during the appeal. The court agreed. Instead of the appeal continuing, ComReg withdrew the directives saying they will sort it without being forceful. That was nearly two years ago. Nothing has improved.
  • Release reports just before close of business, usually on a Thursday or a Friday, (and now a Sunday!) ensuring a jurnalist won’t have much time to sort through the spin and uncover the real facts. The spin says that prices are some of the cheapest in Europe, the facts buried inside say that we are 2nd most expensive for phone bills.
  • Issue a report on EU prices and slip Switzerland into a graph on mobile prices to make Ireland look like it isn’t the most expensive. I think an EU referendum is needed to allow Switzerland to join.
  • Issue press releases about me when they should really fix the fucking telecoms market.

So ComReg should win an award for making fiction look like facts. Turning lead into gold. This press release from IrelandOffline is typical of the real facts in a ComReg report. ComReg release saying telecoms prices are below EU prices, the small print reads something like “national calls are below the EU average”. That’s what they mean by telecoms prices. They leave out local calls, they leave out calls to mobiles and they leave out line rental, because naturally what would they have to do with the bottom line on a phone bill?

In 2006 more delusions than ever before were released by ComReg, they jumped to the call of eircom more than ever when they tried to stop a story on telecoms with data I supplied to a paper. I’m not quite sure where in their charter interference with the press is but they did this anyway.

In 2006 they were partly to blame for Smart falling to pieces due to a crap and highly expensive LLU system which they signed off on and a telecoms market with prices so high it was hard to compete unless you resold eircom crap. Isolde Goggin resigned as chairperson and quit ComReg completely just before her successor was named. I think this is a bad sign for 2007. As in earlier posts I expect a status quo from ComReg while eircom run riot. The current ComReg is beyond salvation but they’re a most convenient shield for Noel Dempsey. Until there is career-ending pressure on him, ComReg will be left live.

10 Responses to “The Merlin of Irish Telecoms: ComReg – Irish Telecoms Review 2006 Part 4”

  1. Gavin says:

    In relation to the graph on mobile prices, not only is Switzerland included, but so is Norway, which is ranked just below Ireland. Neither are members of the EU or are ever likely to be.

  2. Tipster says:

    Hmmm … The graph title doesn’t say “EU”, it says “European”. And the inclusion of both Norway and Switzerland would suggest that it it EFTA based rather than EU. (The exclusion of Luxembourg could be explained by its size; I don’t know why Iceland would not be included, though).

  3. Damien says:

    Well spotted Gavin. The issue here is that ComReg are picking and choosing stats. They’ll leave out countries if they’ll make Ireland look worse, not better. The majority of their reports talk about EU statistics and then they throw in mobile stats with countries like Norway and Switzerland. Again, as I keep smacking them with, they are highly selective in their statistics.

  4. John says:

    There’s a job going in ComReg after Isolde Goggin resigned. Why not start an internet campaign ‘Damien Mulley for ComReg’ to lobby Dempsey and demonstrate how many people expect more.

  5. Grace says:

    Good site!!! I found your site in the google.t

  6. jdlongford says:

    Nice to see an honest opinion, Damien. Our service in Ireland is deplorable, and no government minister or agency is willing to take responsibility.

  7. Seamus Purcell says:

    The service Irelands population receives from Comreg is all but shocking, not only, the Comreg spin lies, lies and more lies, the comreg site is a complete waste of time and not at all relevant, the call cost site is equally user unfriendly

    If there is a vacancy for a grossly incompetent Regulator anywhere in this world or beyond, we have one that should exceed all the poor performance targets with ease

  8. I’ve a client operating in the UK who would like advice (for one of their customers) on setting up a telecoms operation in Ireland. Since trawling through blog sites I found yours and wondered if you could recommend any solicitors or counsel who are experts in this field.