ComReg is responsible for assessing whether certain Electronic Communications markets in Ireland are effectively competitive in accordance with the EU regulatory framework as transposed into national law. These markets have changed over time and are identified in various European Commission recommendations. The current recommendation is the 2014 Recommendation on Relevant Products and Service Markets (2014 Recommendation) and it identifies five markets as being susceptible to ex ante regulation.
ComReg can also regulate markets not identified in the 2014 Recommendation subject to certain conditions being satisfied, with ComReg regulating a number of markets on this basis. The 2014 Recommendation replaces previous European Commission Recommendations of 2007 and 2003.
Using economic and competition law principles, ComReg is tasked with defining the respective markets from a product and geographic perspective; assessing the nature of competition in such markets in order to ascertain whether any service provider has significant market power (SMP) within such a market (akin to dominance); and, if so whether the service provider is capable of restricting and/or distorting competition within that market as a result of its market power. Where competition concerns are identified ComReg can impose obligations on the SMP service provider in order to promote the conditions according to which effective competition might occur. Such obligations can include requirements to provide network access at regulated prices, to act in a non-discriminatory manner and to publish certain information.
The EU framework for defining the markets, assessing competition within them and imposing regulatory obligations (where appropriate) is set out in the 2011 Framework Regulations and the 2011 Access Regulations, as well as other important guidance documents of which ComReg is required to take utmost account.