Ireland’s telecoms industry watchdog the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is said to be considering a proposal to increase consumer line rentals in rural and suburban areas, SiliconRepublic reports. The paper cites the lobby group IrelandOffline as saying that its analysis of ComReg Document 12/63 leads it to believe that rentals could rise to EUR40 (USD50.9) a month from the current EUR26 by 2014, to allow former monopoly Eircom to compete more effectively in urban areas, but could come at the expense of rural users. ComReg’s proposal is the result of a consultation on price regulation of bundled offers, it says, and suggests that in some areas Eircom would not have to levy a line rental on its customers. However, IrelandOffline argues that under such a rebalancing scheme, the shortfall would have to be made up by rural users. The group’s chairman Eamonn Wallace is quoted as saying: ‘We in IrelandOffline wonder what exactly this has to do with ‘bundled offers’. The ComReg analysis was conducted despite the complete lack of a Regulatory Impact Assessment of any sort whether beforehand or as part of the overall document … Tinkering around with regulatory details in urban areas will not alter anything. Compared to cable, Eircom no longer has a competitive copper-based product, no matter what the price … UPC will continue to eat Eircom’s lunch until Eircom introduces a fully fibre to-the-premises product that is capable of delivering true triple-play and at least 100Mbps speeds and at a competitive price’. As such, Wallace argues it is not fair that rural customers should have to pay for the consequences of what he considers to be ‘over a decade of bad regulation’.
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