Ireland’s Eircom must open its fiber-optic access networks to competitors

Ireland’s national regulator ComReg says Eircom will have to offer competitors access to its fiber-optic broadband networks on a wholesale basis. ComReg ruled that Eircom, the national carrier, has significant market power (SMP) in the markets for Wholesale Physical Network Infrastructure Access (WPNIA) and Wholesale Broadband Access (WBA) in ComReg Decision No. D05/10 and ComReg Decision No. D06/11, respectively.

Ireland’s national regulator ComReg says Eircom will have to offer competitors access to its fiber-optic broadband networks on a wholesale basis. ComReg ruled that Eircom, the national carrier, has significant market power (SMP) in the markets for Wholesale Physical Network Infrastructure Access (WPNIA) and Wholesale Broadband Access (WBA) in ComReg Decision No. D05/10 and ComReg Decision No. D06/11, respectively.

Comreg says the decisions, which were taken after significant consultation with industry, create the framework, based on fair competition, transparency, and certainty, to drive accelerated investment by operators in next-generation broadband. Over €900 million is being invested by existing companies in new technology to enable faster broadband, which should see up to 1 million customers having a choice of high-speed broadband with access to speeds of between 30 Mbps and 150 Mbps.

Comreg adds that next-generation broadband services will play an important role in the development of the Irish economy and society, and will contribute to achieving the European and national targets for the EU Digital Agenda and National Broadband Plan.

Eircom is upgrading its existing copper access network with fiber to the cabinet (FTTC), which will be delivered over a multi-year rollout. The carrier asserts it will invest €400 million in fiber-optic cable infrastructure, which will be available to 1 million premises by December 2014. It also doesn’t appear to be all that upset about the decisions.

“Eircom welcomes the regulatory certainty for our fiber investment provided by today’s decision,” the company said in a statement issued to the press. “The network is a critical investment for Eircom and Ireland. We now will work with ComReg and industry to launch services as quickly as possible.”

ComReg notes that there has been significant commercial activity in the fixed broadband market in recent years, reflecting increased competition and customer demand for faster data access. The cable operator UPC has seen strong growth and now has 27% of the retail fixed broadband market. UPC says that it is continuing with its €500 million investment in its cable network, which should see 750,000 homes able to access services at date speeds of up to150 Mbps. Likewise the alternative fixed operators continue to invest in local loop unbundling (LLU). BT Ireland now supplies broadband access to both Vodafone and Sky Ireland, and along with other operators is also investing in fixed infrastructure.

ComReg says its measures closely mirror the evolving European policy for next-generation access, which has been widely debated by the European Commission and the investment community. The analysis has been assisted and critically assessed by Consultants Oxera.

For more information on FTTx/access systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

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