The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) today published two decisions on its assessment of competition in the wholesale Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) market and wholesale broadband markets.
The completion of these market reviews, which followed an earlier public consultation process, fulfils our obligation to complete such reviews within a 5-year timeline. The proposals were, in accordance with relevant legislation, reviewed by the European Commission and were cleared by it in December 2023.
ComReg’s assessment of competition in these markets focuses on determining whether any service provider has Significant Market Power (SMP) that would allow it to adversely affect market outcomes.
ComReg has found that Eircom has SMP in the PIA market (which relates to the provision of duct and pole access) and in the next generation wholesale fibre broadband market. To ensure fair competition, Eircom is subject to a range of SMP-based regulatory obligations, some of which have been scaled back relative to those imposed on it to date.
Such obligations, include requirements for it to rent next generation fibre lines to other retail telecoms companies, with Eircom allowed further pricing flexibility to set wholesale Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) broadband prices at any level it chooses (subject to certain rules with respect to below cost selling and, notification periods and compliance with competition law requirements as the case may be). ComReg has also relaxed the current obligation which banned wholesale pricing discounts and so, subject to pre-approval from ComReg, Eircom may now offer discounted prices for wholesale FTTP broadband services.
ComReg has also removed all existing SMP regulation from Eircom on the Wholesale Central Access (WCA) broadband market, with regulatory obligations on copper only broadband services also being withdrawn given the expected continuing shift towards Next Generation FTTP services over the coming years.
Ensuring fair competition means that, consumers can benefit from having a wide choice of service providers offering high quality next generation broadband services at competitive prices. The regulatory framework, which aligns with that in place in many other European countries, should encourage ongoing investment and innovation in next generation broadband services, including FTTP.
ComReg’s most recent Quarterly Key Data Report (QKDR) (ComReg Document 23/114R) shows that at the end of Q3 2023, FTTP was the most commonly purchased broadband technology in Ireland (38% of fixed broadband lines) with Eircom having the highest retail FTTP market share (32.7%).
Notes to editors
In January 2023 ComReg issued two Consultations (see ComReg Document 23/03 and ComReg Document 23/04) setting out its assessment of competition in the above wholesale broadband markets and its proposed regulatory framework governing these. Following the conclusion of the public consultations in March 2023, and having considered respondents’ submissions, in November 2023 ComReg notified the European Commission of its assessment of competition in two wholesale broadband access markets and the PIA market (which relates to the provision of duct and pole access) (see ComReg Document 23/105 and ComReg Document 23/106). The services provided in these markets by telecoms service providers are bought by other service providers, to supply retail broadband and other services to residential and business consumers.
Prior to adopting a final decision, ComReg (like all National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) across the EU) is required to notify the European Commission of draft measures that it proposes to adopt. The European Commission cleared ComReg’s proposals in December 2023 and did not raise any serious doubts about them. The European Commission can also (and frequently does) provide comments on regulatory proposals and NRAs are obliged to take ‘utmost account’ of these. ComReg’s has addressed and taken account of the European Commission’s one comment in its adopted decisions, where appropriate ComReg Document 24/05 and ComReg Document 24/07
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