Universal service is a safety net to ensure that a set of at least the minimum services is available to all end-users and at an affordable price, where the risk of social exclusion arising from the lack of such access prevents citizens from full social and economic participation in society.
The Universal Service Obligations (USO) ensure the provision of basic telecommunication services throughout the State, particularly in areas of the State (such as rural or sparsely populated areas) where the market might not otherwise deliver these services.
The USO designation on eir for access at a fixed location expired on 30 June 2023. ComReg is currently consulting on “Universal Service Requirements Provision of voice only connections and voice communications services at a fixed location (VFL USO)“.
ComReg had previously set binding annual USO quality of service performance targets for connections and these targets were part of eir’s universal service obligation. The most recent obligation was set out in Decision D02/19 which came to an end on 30 June 2021 and has not been replaced.
However, in its recent AFL USO Decision (D09/21), ComReg stated that it will continue to monitor eir’s QoS performance on an ongoing basis, in line with its regulatory functions. ComReg considers that QoS is an important aspect of AFL and it is important that the QoS performance is maintained.
The annual performance targets for connections, which eir is no longer obliged to meet but will continue to be monitored against, are split between in-situ connections and all other connections.
‘In-situ connections’ do not require a call out to the premises as the activation of the line is carried out remotely. In line with Eir’s policy statement, it should take no more than a working day to activate such a request for connection. ComReg has set the following targets:
For all other connections, a call out to the premises is necessary and may involve making an appointment with the customer requesting a connection. The time taken to complete the connection will vary depending on the level of work involved and whether consents from road and planning authorities and private landowners are necessary. ComReg has set the following targets:
Quality of service performance in relation to these targets is published quarterly by us by way of an Information Notice and eir also publishes performance on its website at www.eir.ie/regulatoryinformation/quality-of-service/
You can also find out more by visiting the publications section of the ComReg website www.comreg.ie/publications/ and search under ‘Publication Category’ type “Quality of Service”.
Eir, at times, relies on third party intervention when installing lines. These can include permission from local authorities such as county councils when requiring road opening and closing.
ComReg has decided (D12/20) that a public payphone universal service obligation and associated designation, post 31 December 2020, is not necessary in light of the existence of public voice telephony access points and future commercial plans for those access points to satisfy the reasonable needs for such service at this time
Having regard to the changing conditions in the electronic communications market, including alternative services to the printed phonebook directory, evolving end-user behaviour, the level of end-user demand for the on request printed phonebook directory in 2019 and the existing regulations in place, ComReg has decided (Decision D07/20) that there is no longer a need for the imposition of a directory of subscribers USO or the designation of a USP.
 An “equivalent service” means a connection and a standalone PATS, or bundle, which is equivalent to that prevailing for access at a fixed location provided by the eir, with respect to quality of service, minimum indoor availability, and affordability. A “bundle” means grouping a fixed voice service and fixed broadband service as a package.