Telecom regulator ComReg has abandoned bids that would have allowed National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to use Eir’s poles and channels to spread its high-speed network at less than the rates other telecom companies would have to pay.
The move comes in the wake of raising concerns about the EU’s plans, which said it had « serious doubts » about whether they were in line with union law.
In a letter sent to ComReg last month, the EU Commission said it feared the proposals could create barriers to the internal market.
ComReg suggested that due to the « specific and unique nature » of the National Broadband Plan and the role of the NBI in it, differential, and therefore lower, rates would apply to its access to Eir channels and poles relative to other commercial operators.
But now the organizer has decided to withdraw the draft plans.
Instead, it intends to revisit the issue of pricing access to critical engineering infrastructure in the context of an upcoming physical infrastructure access market review.
In the meantime, current price controls will remain in place.
National Broadband Ireland is currently rolling out high-speed broadband to more than half a million buildings across the country on behalf of the state.
To do this, you need to use the columns and channels of the Eir in some areas.
Meanwhile, Transport and Communications Minister Eamonn Ryan said he is seeking legal and accounting advice in connection with the operation of the €3 billion national broadband contract awarded to National Broadband Ireland.
The minister said he was pleased that National Broadband Ireland was meeting its obligations under a « very complex contract and process ».
However, he said he had asked his ministry officials to evaluate the contract « to make sure everything is done correctly and properly » after media reports regarding the private financing arrangements in the contract.
Mr Ryan said he had been informed that some fee arrangements were standard and within normal industry practice, but that he would not pre-empt the situation before a more detailed analysis was done.
The commitments in the contract are very strong, he said, and « we will implement them and ensure that they comply with their contractual obligations. »
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