Dáil Éireann - Volume 650 - 12 March, 2008
Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.
Deputy Shane McEntee Deputy Shane McEntee
Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress with Eircom’s proposal for structural separation; the consultation processes or advisory forums that have been held; if he and his Department are in favour of the proposal; if regulatory changes have been considered or agreed to facilitate such separation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10683/08]
Deputy Joe Costello Deputy Joe Costello
Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the merits of functional or structural separation of Eircom; his preference in relation to same; the position regarding the local loop unbundling situation here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10557/08]
Deputy Eamon Ryan Deputy Eamon Ryan
Deputy Eamon Ryan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 121 together.
Eircom is a private company and is entitled to implement the corporate structure that best meets its needs provided that appropriate engagement takes place with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) on any regulatory issues that might arise in a separated company. I understand ComReg has engaged consultants to assist in the review of eircom’s proposals for structural separation and this work is already underway. I have no specific role in relation to any form of restructuring of eircom.
However, as the roll out of high quality, competitive broadband infrastructure is a key priority for Government and as eircom operates an extensive network in this regard, their investment and organisational plans are of major interest to me. I have met the Chairman and Senior Executives of eircom since taking up office and Eircom’s plans for the future, including the possibility of structural separation, have been discussed. At that meeting, and in a follow  up letter from me, Eircom’s commitment to investment was welcomed, and Eircom was advised about the Government’s draft policy paper on Next Generation Networks which will set out the Government’s policy framework in this area. Eircom was invited to contribute to the consultation process that will follow on this policy paper shortly. It was also made clear to Eircom, that regulatory issues arising from their proposals were a matter for ComReg, who are independent.
The Deputy may be aware that EU Commission’s proposals for reform of the legislative framework for the sector, which were published in November, include adding functional separation to the remedy tool-box of national regulators. Such a remedy would be used only where there is clear evidence that the usual remedies have been tried and failed. There is some debate around whether customers would be best served by functional opening of the network or by a structural split between the retail and network divisions of the business, but I think the key issue is the implementation of the operational model that provides the optimum competitive environment and promotes investment and innovation by all telecoms providers.
Dáil Éireann 650 Written Answers. Telecommunications Services.