Eir sues ComReg over cost of pay phones and directory services
Telco also challenges lack of funding for obligation to bring lines to remote areas
Eir’s obligations: The State’s designated Universal Service Provider is expected to provide pay phones. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
Eir has brought a legal challenge over decisions by the Commissionen for Communications Regulation concerning the firm’s obligation to provide certain essential services. The case was admitted to the Commercial Court list by Mr Justice Robert Haughton on Monday.
It arises out of ComReg’s decision not to provide Eir with funding to meet costs the company incurred delivering its universal obligations as the State’s designated universal service provider (USP). This includes the provision of pay phones, directory services and and fixed lines in isolated areas.
In terms of financing the USP obligations, Eir is entitled to seek funding by applying to ComReg for establishment of a sharing mechanism where the net costs can be shared among all providers of electronic communications networks and services in the state.
In 2014, Eir made several applications for compensation of costs incurred due to its designation as a USP for each year from 2010 to 2015.
ComReg found in a decision published last April that, while Eir incurred costs of €43 million in meeting its obligations during the relative periods, those did not represent an unfair burden to Eir.
In its challenge, Eir claims ComReg made a number of significant errors in the manner in which it arrived at its decisions and it wants the court to set those decisions aside.
The alleged errors include that ComReg erred in its assessment of the extent to which Eir’s obligations constitute an unfair burden. It also claims that ComReg’s decisions are discriminatory, unfair and disproportionate and that ComReg breached its statutory obligations.
The application for inclusion in the commercial list was made by Eircom Ltd, represented by Jonathan Newman SC.
Three Ireland Ltd also applied to become a notice party to the action. Vodafone is considering if it is appropriate for it to also seek to be a notice party to the action. The judge has adjourned the matter to early next month.