Local press reports confirm that Ireland’s former monopoly operator eir is launching a legal bid to challenge a decision by the industry regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), to renew its Universal Service Obligation (USO) for the provision of access at a Fixed Location (AFL) across the entire country. eir says the decision to extend its designation for a further five years (covering the period July 2016 to July 2021) ‘significantly constrains its ability to freely conduct its business affairs’, and hinders its capability to compete with rivals in the domestic market.
ComReg’s ruling means that the incumbent must strive to accommodate all reasonable requests for fixed telecoms access, while simultaneously ensuring that it meets minimum targets in respect of quality of service (QoS), fault repairs and establishing a connection. However, eir argues that the USO requirement puts an overly ‘burdensome and expensive’ requirement on it to provide fixed voice and even dial-up internet at a time when mobile networks are widely available for voice calls – and increasingly data. Noting that it is currently working to deploy a high speed fibre-optic broadband network across the Republic, the telco says it would make no sense to kick start investment in its antiquated and increasingly obsolete legacy copper wire PSTN.