Ireland’s telecoms watchdog ComReg told the Oireachtas Committee on Communications yesterday that it implemented an emergency planning procedure with the national incumbent eircom when it became aware of the financial difficulties affecting Smart Telecom. The former monopoly took the decision to cut off 40,000 or so Smart telephone customers on 2 October after Smart ran up debts of EUR4 million. ComReg told the Committee that under the emergency plan it requested that eircom give Smart customers a suitable period of notice before initiating its plan to formally disconnect its wholesale service with the troubled operator. However, eircom allegedly declined its request and announced it would terminate the service by 5pm that day.
Irish politicians have been unanimous in their scorn. Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan said the events surrounding Smart and the debacle of the last week had done ‘irreparable damage to the whole concept of regulation’, while the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan said it was obvious to many that eircom was still ‘calling the shots’ where the telecoms market in Ireland was concerned.