Comreg, the telecoms Chihuahua

Comreg, the telecoms Chihuahua

Here at IrelandOffline we’ve decided to return to a topic we have discussed many times before. The “so-called activities” of the Telecommunications watchdog(1).
Eamonn Wallace, Chairman of IrelandOffline said : “Their activities affect every single business and consumer right across the country yet nothing ever happens, nobody examines the topic, in fact we’d call it an outright scandal. The essential point is that our telecoms regulator and the “regulated entity” seem to be colluding together to keep wholesale and backhaul prices at extremely high levels and these high prices affect every single telecommunications user in a very adverse manner by keeping consumer prices exceedingly high…way over similar pricing across the EU. It’s cheaper to send data to New York than it is to send data to Castlebar or Dingle. This is killing businesses across the state. There seems to be a total lack of any coherent overall regulatory strategy, nothing matters except immediate profit and endless long-fingering in the form of interminable consultations”

Exorbitant pricing
Wallace continued : “Anyone that assumes that monthly bills of around €100 per month for nothing more than a basic service are not really paying attention to the trends in telecommunications across the EU and the rest of the world (except Canada), where prices are static or falling. Yet here prices are rising faster than an ICBM(2), why is that?, well we can only draw the conclusion that this problem falls under the remit of Comreg”

Functional Internet access
Wallace added: “In 2018 Comreg still have us living in the age of very bad dialup and they “think” this is acceptable. Only one interested party can be happy with providing 1980’s style services and Comreg will not change this! They’ve completely ignored the needs of consumers yet again”

Mobile coverage
“Mobile communications are being sucked dry”, said Wallace. “ComReg have taken almost €1.5Bn out of the sector since 2002. The disgraceful 2012 mobile licences with their minuscule coverage obligations and the general mismanagement of the sector have condemned everyone in rural Ireland to lousy coverage until 2030. Meanwhile ComReg blame handsets, walls, insulation, and even holding the phone in the wrong hand as excuses to deflect attention from the blindingly obvious; that mobile spectrum is sold with one objective; to maximise revenue for the Department of Finance. Every euro extracted from the industry in spectrum fees is a euro that is not spent on network coverage. Our conclusion is that ComReg is probably being directed from the Department of Finance without a thought to national communications objectives.”

“So who are ComReg accountable to?” asks Wallace. “No Communications Minister has given them a policy direction since 2004. Is this Minister afraid to direct them?, why is that? He has the powers to direct them if he chose to do so.”

Regulatory capture
Wallace went on to say: “It is hard to know how this type of scandal could be classified, when a regulator makes the bulk of its income and turns a profit from making decisions in favour of it’s “regulated entity”. When the “regulated entity” says jump Comreg say “How high?”. This is disgraceful; we are supposed to trust the regulator on other topics like consumer protection and for Comreg to do the “right thing”.
The main takeaway is that Comreg are utterly useless and we wonder can they be trusted to be impartial on any topic.”

The future
Only ubiquitous fibre can save the telecoms industry from stagnation. Comreg seem more interested in asset sweating the ancient copper network than leading the way to providing a modern infrastructure for Ireland. Can we please get on with the job!

(1)Lots of noise and consultations but very little action:

Comreg and 70% population coverage

(2)As alleged in a currently running advert

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