The Irish Times writes that fixed and mobile operator Vodafone Ireland is launching a legal challenge against the Commission for Communications Regulation’s (ComReg’s) decision to change certain charges levied by cellular network operators for terminating incoming mobile voice calls to their networks from other fixed and mobile networks. Vodafone Ireland is contesting the move, arguing that the decisions put in place by ComReg, and a ‘more onerous’ change that is set to come into effect from 1 July 2013, will have a negative impact on its revenues. The cellco points out that its turnover for call termination services has slumped from EUR95.7 million (USD126 million) in its fiscal H2 2007, to EUR31.8 million for the six months ended 30 September 2012. Central to Vodafone’s challenge is the assertion that the regulator’s ‘price-control decision instrument specifies that mobile phone call termination rates be set in accordance with pure long run incremental cost (LRIC) methodology, but no such pure LRIC model has yet been elaborated by ComReg for Ireland’.
As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, on 20 December 2012 the watchdog published its final decision (Ref: ComReg 12/139) on weighted average wholesale mobile termination rates (MTR) in the country, following an appeal from Vodafone. The move followed its publication of Decision D11/12 in November last year, which designated six mobile service providers with significant market power (SMP) in the Republic, and imposed a number of obligations on each of them, including an obligation of cost orientation. At the same time the watchdog published Decision D12/12, noting, amongst other things, the SMP mobile providers in question as Hutchison 3G Ireland (H3GI), Lycamobile Ireland (Lycamobile), Meteor Mobile Communications (Meteor), Telefonica Ireland (O2), Tesco Mobile Ireland (TMI) and Vodafone Ireland (Vodafone). However, on 18 December Vodafone Ireland appealed to the High Court against Decision D11/12 (insofar as that decision imposed a cost orientation obligation on operators) and also against ComReg Decision D12/12, which directed each mobile operator with SMP to ensure that its weighted average wholesale MTR is no more than EUR0.0260 per minute for the period from 1 January 2013 to 30 June 2013. The decision also imposed a maximum permitted wholesale MTR of EUR0.0104 per minute on each SMP mobile operator with effect from 1 July 2013. ComReg 12/139 also noted that, notwithstanding the appeal brought by Vodafone, decisions D11/12 and D12/12 remain in force in their entirety.