Vodafone Ireland has emerged successful from its appeal against the national regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation’s (ComReg’s), proposal to introduce new mobile termination fees (MTRs). In May this year TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that Vodafone issued a legal challenge in the courts in a bid to prevent ComReg from introducing the new fees on 1 July. Vodafone argued that the proposed model could lead to increased bills for end users adding that ComReg had erroneously applied the wrong model for calculating mobile termination rates. Vodafone Ireland Counsel Niamh Hyland was quoted at the time as saying that the regulator’s proposed fees would have ‘some effect on retail levels’, although she conceded that the precise impact was unclear.
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. ComReg had proposed a cap of EUR0.0260 (USD0.0347) per minute on the charges that networks impose on other operators when they handle a call from a customer using another network to one of their own customers. The maximum charge of EUR0.0260 was to come into force in January this year, and would have fallen to EUR0.0104 from the beginning of July.
However, the Commercial division of the High Court found ComReg’s proposal for the industry published in November 2012 was ‘flawed’ and not based on an appropriate analysis of the costs incurred by operators in the Irish market. In his ruling Mr Justice Cooke said that ‘taking an average of MTRs from such a small number of member states was an “inherently unreliable” method of calculating a rate for Ireland’. The court set aside ComReg’s proposal.