Ireland’s independent telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has outlined new proposals designed to expand the definition of wholesale unbundled access to take on board fibre-based networks and not just the DSL platforms currently covered. Siliconrepublic.com says that the move is seen as a means of driving broadband uptake in the Republic by encouraging alternative operators to expand their local loop unbundling (LLU) footprints. In a consultation document published yesterday, ComReg concludes that former monopoly operator eircom controls 70% of all xDSL connections in the country and that furthermore, DSL technology accounts for 60% of all broadband connectivity in the country. As a result, ComReg contends that only eircom has significant market power (SMP) in the broadband segment and that it now intends to expand wholesale broadband access to include not just DSL, but all forms of local access technology, including fibre and any next generation networks (NGNs), the incumbent may look to deploy. In addition, ComReg is looking at new measures that would require eircom to provide alternative operators with at least five years notice if it decided to close down a local exchange in which they had co-located equipment.
The regulator’s plans have been broadly welcomed by smaller operators with Smart Telecom’s manager of regulatory affairs, John Quinn, saying the decision to create a ‘technology neutral environment’ would encourage alternative operators to invest in new networks. ‘This will put Ireland in line with other European countries and means that the access network is not just copper but future fibre networks,’ he said. Smart now intends to invest more heavily in its LLU programme which currently involves 37 exchanges across Ireland, covering around half a million potential subscribers.