Thursday, 21 October 2021

ComReg questions independent oversight body’s ability to keep Eir in check

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 11 October 21

ComReg and Eir are once again butting heads, this time over the effectiveness of the independent oversight body (IOB) set up in May 2019 to ensure proper controls between Eir’s wholesale and retail divisions

This week, ComReg has questioned the IOB’s effectiveness in monitoring Eir’s compliance with regulations following the publication of the IOB’s first annual report on the matter.  The regulator said that it may yet devise additional regulatory controls for Eir to follow, suggesting that the IOB’s report does not indicate that &ldquo…

This week, ComReg has questioned the IOB’s effectiveness in monitoring Eir’s compliance with regulations following the publication of the IOB’s first annual report on the matter. 

The regulator said that it may yet devise additional regulatory controls for Eir to follow, suggesting that the IOB’s report does not indicate that “a clear and unambiguous set of measures, arrangements, structures and internal controls are in place” to monitor Eir’s regulatory compliance.

The story here goes back to 2018, when ComReg took High Court action against Eir at the behest of Eir’s competitors, who alleged that the operator’s wholesale arm had given its own retail arm favourable treatment, such as undue priority in fault fixing. Regulations stipulate that all of Eir’s wholesale customers must be treated equally. 

The matter was concluded in December 2018, when the two parties reached an agreement: Eir would pay €3 million to settle the matter and agree to the creation of a new IOB to oversee the relationship between its wholesale and retail arms.

The IOB was officially created in May 2019, consisting of five members, three of which were chosen by ComReg, including the chairperson, and the remaining two by Eir.

Now, following delays, the IOB has published its first report, which is broadly positive regarding Eir’s compliance with regulations.

ComReg, however, argues that the processes in creating the report were inadequate, in part due to Eir not yet permitting their risk management and internal audit divisions to be independently assessed to ComReg’s satisfaction. 

Eir, meanwhile, says that ComReg’s complaints are “very confusing”, noting that the regulator had played a central role in the IOB’s design.

The operator notes that ComReg has been criticised in the past by the EU Commission for their overregulation of Eir.

Mediation over the issue will now follow.

In related news, the European Commission recently blocked a proposal by ComReg to partially deregulate the Irish fixed voice telephony market, a move which they said would reduce costs for customers living in urban areas but could increase them for those living outside of major towns and cities.

 

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