Eircom under scrutiny as ComReg criticises online billing policy

11 Sep 2013

Ireland’s telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is taking former monopoly Eircom to task over the telco’s plan to move some of its mobile customers to online billing. The watchdog has warned it that it that its decision to introduce the new billing method violated its obligations to notify the customers involved ahead of the change in their contracts. The incumbent now has three weeks to answer ComReg’s breach notice, or it may face enforcement action.

From 12 August this year Eircom began the process of moving some 207,000 Meteor Mobile and eMobile customers to e-billing – a decision that sparked immediate criticism from consumer groups. Although the users involved received three separate notifications of the change in their billing, under local telecoms rules Meteor Mobile should have given its customers the option to either opt out or reject the contract change. In a notice published yesterday, ComReg said: ‘Specifically, in accordance with Regulation 14(4) of the Universal Service Regulations, Meteor is required to notify subscribers of proposed modifications to contractual conditions and to advise subscribers of their right to withdraw without penalty from the contract if they do not accept the proposed change.’

In an unrelated development, Eircom has thrown its hat into the ring with the FreeMove Alliance in a bid to extend its global mobile communications footprint. The alliance – whose members include Deutsche Telekom, Orange Group, Telecom Italia and TeliaSonera – offers the multinationals involved a greater array of options when it comes to providing seamless mobile communications across a number of different countries. The FreeMove Alliance is set up to provide the support they need in each country to allow each cellco’s customers on the ground to take advantage of its international procurement and management structure. ‘By joining the FreeMove Alliance we are not only extending the alliance’s footprint into Ireland, but we are also giving our customers the opportunity to centrally manage and have full visibility of their global mobile workforce,’ said Ronan Kneafsey, managing director, Eircom Business. ‘It enables our customers to improve their mobile businesses operations at an international level,’ he added.