Irish telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) and fixed line incumbent eir are reportedly at loggerheads after the former raised doubts over the ability of an independent watchdog to properly assess the relationship between eir’s wholesale and retail units. According to The Irish Independent, ComReg has suggested it could introduce new regulatory controls on eir, as it believes that the independent oversight body (IOB) established in May 2019 as part of a High Court settlement between the parties is unable to assess the effectiveness of the company’s regulatory governance model. ComReg apparently lacks confidence that a ‘clear and unambiguous set of measures, arrangements, structures and internal controls are in place’ to ensure that the telco is complying with its regulatory obligations. Its concerns have been raised following the publication of the IOB’s first annual report on the implementation and effectiveness of an undertaking by eir in relation to its regulatory governance.
For its part, eir has suggested that ComReg’s concerns regarding the IOB are ‘very confusing’, with the telco pointing out that the regulator had helped to design and establish the oversight body. In a statement, eir claimed that ComReg’s disappointment with the positive IOB report was ‘consistent with the recent EU Commission’s decision which criticised ComReg’s over-regulation of eir’. The issue is understood to have now been referred for mediation.
TeleGeography notes that that the establishment of the IOB formed part of a EUR3 million (EUR3.5 million) settlement by eir in December 2018, after ComReg had initiated a legal action over the lack of proper controls between the company’s retail and wholesale divisions. ComReg had taken the operator to court following ongoing complaints from rival operators, which had claimed eir was giving favourable treatment to its own retail arm, despite its wholesale division being legally obliged to give equal priority to all providers.