A report commissioned by the European Union has described former monopoly operator eircom’s core services as ‘expensive and unreliable’, prompting calls for the former state-owned company to be renationalised. According to the Irish Times, the EU Commission report found that while mobile call charges in the Republic were declining, fixed line users were being saddled with a landline charge of EUR25 (USD33.7) per month – the highest in the EU. The operator’s wholesale service came in for specific criticism, with the report slamming eircom’s high prices to the detriment of sector competition. There was more bad news concerning its broadband rollout targets with the Commission noting that fixed broadband (xDSL) coverage in rural areas lagged 16 percentage points behind the overall national average of 89%.
In the wake of the publication of the report, the chairman of Ireland’s alternative operators’ industry group ALTO, Ronan Lupton, said the government should urgently consider the renationalisation of eircom or make efforts to invest in the national PSTN. ‘This situation is unsustainable and the government must act now,’ Lupton is quoted as saying. ALTO’s call has reportedly been echoed by Fine Gael communications spokesman Simon Coveney who said: ‘I believe that eircom should be taken over in some shape or form.’