Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has published three decisions arising from a review of two ‘key’ wholesale broadband access markets, those being the Whole Local Access (WLA) and Wholesale Central Access (WCA) markets. In its press release regarding the matter, it concluded that deregulation is justified for ‘about half the country’ – mostly in urban areas – in the WCA market, citing increased competition in such locations. Meanwhile, ComReg has also decided that fixed line incumbent eir still holds has significant market power (SMP) in both the WLA segment and regional WCA market and as such will still be subject to regulation. In line with this, ComReg has imposed a range of obligations on the telco which it said are ‘intended to make it easier for the telecoms operators to use [eir’s] wholesale services’. In addition, the regulator noted that it has reviewed eir’s wholesale services, including pricing, and has, inter alia, imposed a rental price reduction of 15%, which will see the charge for a ‘virtual unbundled access’ (‘VUA’) connection offered over the telco’s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network drop to EUR19.54 (USD22.31) per month from 1 March 2019. Beyond that, the regulator’s decision (Decision No. D11/18) has set out the level of charges that can be levied for both the FTTC-based VUA as well as FTTC-based bitstream services for the period to June 2024.
Commenting on the decisions, Commissioner Jeremy Godfrey was cited as saying: ‘These wide-ranging decisions, which are the culmination of detailed reviews, in consultation with industry and other stakeholders, will continue to provide regulatory certainty for all market players and set the necessary conditions for sustainable competition and ongoing network investment. ComReg will be closely monitoring market developments to ensure that consumers can benefit in terms of the price, choice and quality of fixed broadband services.’