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Home / Advice & Information / Universal Service

Universal Service

What is Universal Service?

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[1].

In Ireland (and other EU countries) there are universal service requirements for Electronic Communications and Postal Services.

Universal Service for Electronic Communications

The purpose of this universal service obligation is to ensure consumers and certain businesses have affordable access to adequate broadband and voice services at a fixed location.

Generally, universal service obligations are only required when service providers fail to deliver, and relevant public policy interventions have been exhausted.

Under the new national legislation, ComReg’s role is dependent on Ministerial requirements and includes defining adequate broadband service requirements, and affordability measures, and specifying the applicable quality standards.

Should ComReg’s recommendations of adequate broadband or voice communications services (at a fixed location) not be available within the State under normal commercial circumstances, ComReg will seek the opinion of the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications as to whether other potential public policy tools can be made available to help.

Depending on the Minister’s opinion, ComReg may define and impose appropriate universal service obligations to help satisfy the reasonable requests of consumers[2].

Is there a Universal Service Provider?

Following several public consultations, ComReg established that fixed voice communications services cannot be ensured commercially in the State, therefore there is not a Universal Service Provider in Ireland[3].

ComReg communicated this decision to the Minister and requested his opinion as to whether other potential public policy tools can or cannot ensure access to voice communications services in the State. ComReg may issue a separate response to the consultation and a decision on the other preliminary views consulted, depending on the Minister’s opinion[4].

Currently, there are no Universal Service Obligations covered under Regulation 72(1) of the Code Regulations.

Public Payphones

ComReg has decided (Decision D12/20) that, from December 31st, 2020, there is no need for a public payphone universal service obligation and associated designation due to the numerous ways in which users’ needs are met (including commercially provided payphones).

Phonebook (Directory of Subscribers)

ComReg has decided (Decision D07/20) that there is no longer a need for a universal service obligation concerning a directory of subscribers or to designate a universal service provider. Several items informed this decision – the changing conditions in the electronic communications market, 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 regulations in place.

[1] Recital 212 of Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council

of 11 December 2018 establishing the European Electronic Communications Code(Recast)

[2] Regulation 72(1) of the European Union (Electronic Communications Code) Regulations 2022 (“the Code Regulations”)

[3] “Universal Service Establishing that fixed voice communications services cannot be ensured commercially in the State” , D10/23, Document No. 23/115, published 13 December 2023. Universal Service Establishing that fixed voice communications services cannot be ensured commercially in the State. D10/23, Document No. 23/115 | Commission for Communications Regulation (

[4] “Universal Service Provision of voice only connections and voice communications services at a fixed location – Response to Consultation, Further Consultation, and Draft Decision”,  Document No. 23/55, published 20 June 2023.


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