ComReg bitch at eircom for playing within the rules

The Irish Telcoms Poodle (yes I’m bringing it back) yesterday made shapes in the press about eircom and the time it takes them to install phonelines and fix them. ComReg are telling eircom enough is enough.

In relation to installation times, ComReg’s concerns include the welfare of customers who are having to wait more than 6 months – and in some cases over a year – for connection to the public telephone network; targets have therefore been set to require all installations to be made within 6 months, and 80% of all requests to be met within 24 hours or 2 weeks, according to the type of request.

Photo owned by Warchild (cc)

But. ComReg changed the rules of the game about 3 years ago when they extended the install time eircom were allowed to have for phonelines. Before they were allowed a maximum of 6 months and after the USO decision they were allowed 12 months. Now ComReg are saying it’s too long and take eircom to task IF they do it in future. How long have ComReg had the new powers to prosecute and how many customers got screwed over since? Did ComReg measure it, did they care?

This is what Comreg said in 2005(PDF doc):

ComReg recognises that meeting the timescales should not cause undue pressure on eircom. ComReg would expect that the targets will be exceeded in most cases and that the vast majority of requests would be completed within an eight week period. ComReg would not consider it unreasonable for longer periods to be involved where requests involve connections in some situations such as where there are difficulties or delays in obtaining way leaves access for infrastructural works etc. However, ComReg would consider that such longer periods would be the exception and reporting against indicative targets will increase transparency on performance in meeting the Universal Service Obligation.

And then says they’re not going to do anything if eircom go over the time:

ComReg has considered making performance targets mandatory but without the possibility of penalties in the event of failure to comply, such mandatory targets would be meaningless. It should be noted that while the obligation to provide access to the network is a requirement of the Regulations, there is no provision in the Regulations for penalties in the event of a breach.

This is what IrelandOffline said in 2005:

The proposals from ComReg allow eircom to take 4 weeks to install a line for 50% of applications and up to 12 months to install a line for 5% of consumers.

And this is exactly what happened. ComReg created a ruleset that practically encouraged eircom to worry less about connecting lines to their network and the quality of it and thus allowing it to get worse, not better. Back then they had plenty of cash to spend on the network to up the quality and install times, now they’re strangled in debts. The new rules are meaningless and are all a show and nothing more. There will be the usual “reasonable” loophole for all of this.

ComReg’s paymasters at the end of the day are eircom, Vodafone, O2 et al. They take a percentage of their profits as their special tax to run their org. The more eircom and other telcos make, the more ComReg can take off them and pass whatever is left to the Department of Finance. Why would they make life tough for the telcos?

So if eircom don’t meet these new obligations, ComReg will do what:

failure by Eircom to achieve any of the targets as set out in the Decision Instrument in Appendix A would be considered by ComReg to be non-compliance by Eircom with its regulatory obligations and would have the potential to attract enforcement action by ComReg in accordance with the procedures provided for under Regulation 32 of the Universal Service Regulations.

In summary, these procedures would involve ComReg notifying Eircom of a finding of non-compliance with its obligations imposed under Regulation 10 (4) of the Universal Service Regulations and if appropriate, ComReg applying to the High Court for all orders appropriate by way of enforcing compliance by Eircom with its obligations.

Amongst the orders that ComReg could apply for would be an order for the payment by Eircom to ComReg of a financial penalty. ComReg would also expect to seek a declaration from the High Court that Eircom had breached its obligations, orders directing Eircom to comply with its obligations in the future and any further ancillary orders and conditions that should be attached to such orders.

Do you honestly see ComReg taking eircom to Court for any breach? Going to the bloody High Court to fine eircom a few quid? Not going to happen.

More on my views on ComReg.

It is curious that ComReg announce all of this on the day of eircom’s results. Spoiling the party no? Even though the reality is lame, even ComReg getting bolshy in the press with eircom is an interesting departure. Maybe the Minister is applying pressure? Is someone up for reelection as Commissioner?

One Response to “ComReg bitch at eircom for playing within the rules”

  1. Eoghan says:

    It seems like a genuine mistake by some eager young intern who thought Comreg’s job was to regulate the telecoms sector. Such a notion!

    Personally, I would like to know more about the sources of Comregs income. Surely the telcos are not the only source of funds?