eir launches legal bid to free itself of rural telephone obligation, report says

30 Aug 2016

Ireland’s incumbent telco eir is attempting to free itself of the financial constraints contained in the country’s universal service obligation (USO), launching a legal challenge in which it argues that the proliferation of mobile and fixed broadband alternatives has rendered the USO for basic telephone services in rural areas obsolete. According to a report from The Irish Times, eir is arguing that it is now unfairly burdened with the obligation to provide access, often in economically unviable areas and, as a result, it now intends to lodge a case with the High Court in the coming days to petition a change in stance from the regulator, ComReg.

eir could, however, face an uphill battle in its bid given that the Irish government wants to revise and enforce a new USO – under the proposed National Broadband Plan – making a minimum 30Mbps service an ‘enforceable right’. With eir’s one of three consortia bids shortlisted for the EUR500-EUR600 million (USD559-USD671 million) broadband plan, the other two being SIRO and E-net, communications minister Denis Naughten recently confirmed that he aims ‘to take advantage of upcoming changes in EU telecoms regulation to devise a new USO that will guarantee minimum broadband speeds for all citizens’.

Ireland,eir (formerly Eircom),

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