ComReg defers ruling in row with Eir over fault repair times

Sky, Vodafone, BT and Magnet also want stiffer financial penalty regime imposed

Eir: company is in a dispute with its rival telcos over fault repair times on the broadband and fixed line network.

Telecoms watchdog ComReg has deferred its ruling in a dispute between Eir and several rival telcos over fault repair times on the broadband and fixed line network.

The regulator was due to deliver its determination, which will have implications for consumers, over a week ago having notified the parties of its preliminary findings.

However, its decision was suspended on foot of a last-minute submission from one of the companies involved.

Sky, Vodafone, BT and Magnet, which use Eir's network to deliver their own, claim the former semi-State's fault repair times are too long.


The chief executives of these companies lodged a joint complaint with the regulator last year following a report by Towerhouse consultants, which suggested Eir’s repair times lagged European industry norms.

At issue are Eir’s service-level agreements (SLAs) with the companies that use its network.

They oblige Eir to fix 77 per cent of faults on customers’ lines within two days and 92 per cent within five days.

The non-Eir companies want 85 per cent of network faults repaired within two days and 95 per cent within five days.

They also want a stiffer financial penalty regime imposed on the former semi-State should it fail to meet these agreements.

A spokesman for Eir said the company was meeting its current SLA arrangements. He also confirmed the company had made a detailed submission to ComReg regarding the dispute.

Both sides have agreed to abide by the regulator’s ruling, which is expected to advocate swifter repair times and tougher financial penalties.

“Having engaged with the parties to the dispute and received representations, ComReg has formed the view that the circumstances are exceptional and resolution will not be achieved within the four-month timescale,” the regulator said in a statement on its website. It did not specify when the ruling would be published.

Ronan Lupton of the Alternative Operators in the Communications Market group, which represents non-Eir operators said the industry fully supports ComReg's work within the "Towerhouse appeal".

Either way, he said the outcome was likely to be of benefit to consumers across all networks.

Separately, ComReg is carrying out a regulatory review of Eir’s dominant position in the wholesale telecoms market on foot of admissions by Eir that it was failing to provide equal access to its network to non-Eir companies.

Eir’s wholesale customers, such as Vodafone and Magnet, rely on its infrastructure to connect their own customers, but compete directly with Eir’s retail arm.

The review, which is due to be published at the end of this year, will consider whether Eir's infrastructural arm Open Eir should be run as a separate business, as is the case in other jurisdictions.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times