Eir takes High Court action in row over fault repair times

Telco claims ComReg overstepping remit in imposing penalties on repair delays

Eir’s rivals claim its fault repair times fall below European industry norms and diminish the service they provide.

Eir’s rivals claim its fault repair times fall below European industry norms and diminish the service they provide.

 

Eir has initiated High Court proceedings against telecoms watchdog ComReg in a row over fault repair times.

The State’s largest telco claims ComReg has overstepped its remit by imposing a new obligation on the company to fix line faults within two days or pay a service credit to rivals using its network.

ComReg has been adjudicating in a dispute between Eir and its rivals – Sky, BT, Vodafone and Magnet – which use the former semi-State’s network for their own operations. They claim Eir’s fault repair times fall below European industry norms and diminish the service they provide.

In a ruling in January, ComReg imposed a tougher 48-hour deadline for repairs on Eir and instructed it to negotiate with rivals on an appropriate level of service credit for breaches of the new obligation.

However, these negotiations ended last month without resolution. “The other operators brought a formal dispute to ComReg for resolution. As part of the process, ComReg decided on the scope of the dispute,” Eir said in a statement.

“Eir believes that ComReg has overstepped its boundaries in making its determination. The company believes ComReg has imposed new obligations beyond what the regulator is empowered to impose and outside the scope of the dispute,” the company said.

“It is with regret that Eir has had no option but to challenge the determination through the High Court against what we believe to be an arbitrary and unjustified decision,” it said.

Consumers

Alto, the umbrella group for non-Eir firms, expressed its disappointment with Eir’s decision. A spokesman said further delays to the positive work undertaken by ComReg would have a negative impact on consumers in the short and medium term.

Under its previous service level agreements (SLAs) with companies using its network, Eir had been obliged to fix 77 per cent of faults on customers’ lines within two days and 92 per cent within five days.

However, the company’s rivals claim the times lag basic European industry standards and can have an impact on new entrants and their ability to compete on a like-for-like service basis.

Separately, ComReg has also made findings of non-compliance against Eir in relation to “address matching”. To ensure fair competition, the regulations stipulate Eir must give rivals the same access to customer addresses which it has maintained since its days as a State monopoly. However, ComReg found Eir had failed to meet 27 “obligations” to allow rivals access to customer address information. Rivals claim address matching discrimination gives Eir a jump on them when it comes to service installation.

Eir has until March 21st to reply to ComReg’s findings or face possible punitive action.