Ireland’s independent telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is anxious to clarity the situation vis à vis the rollout of next generation networks (NGNs) rollout in Ireland, adding that it is crucial that eircom’s plans to unbundled the local loop are unhindered in the process. The former monopoly has already signalled its intention to invest EUR60 million (USD81.8 million) to upgrade parts of its core network to handle IPTV and provide a minimum 8Mbps download speed. However, its decision is causing alarm among alternative operators which fear its plans to prioritise NGN investments could render obsolete investments made by altnets in local loop unbundling (LLU) projects. Alternative operators such as Magnet and BT Ireland have already called on the authorities to ensure that LLU be completed before the matter of upgrading to an NGN be addressed.
Responding to these concerns, ComReg has published a position paper in which it acknowledges the concerns of all involved and says: ‘ComReg does not want to see the adoption of LLU being hindered. The experience in other European countries clearly demonstrates the LLU is a key driver of competition and broadband deployment…To this end, ComReg believes that LLU will remain an important enabler of competition, particularly given eircom’s commitment to retain its copper infrastructure for the foreseeable future.’ In addition, the watchdog went on to say that eircom would be expected to retain its obligations for LLU on a nationwide basis ‘where significant market power continues to be found, for the duration of the next market review.’