Dáil Éireann - Volume 675 - 17 February, 2009
Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.
Deputy Mattie McGrath Deputy Mattie McGrath
Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason Eircom has decided to and has been allowed to remove telephone boxes from small towns and villages in rural Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5901/09]
Deputy Eamon Ryan Deputy Eamon Ryan
Deputy Eamon Ryan: The regulation of telecommunications operators, including the regulation of Universal Service Obligations is the responsibility of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), in accordance with the requirements of the Communications Regulation Act 2002 and regulations, which transpose the EU Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications.
In accordance with Regulation 7 of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Universal Service and Users’ Rights) Regulations, S.I. No. 308 of 2003, eircom is designated as the Universal Service Provider. Under Regulation 5 of these Regulations, eircom is obliged to ensure that public payphones are provided to meet the reasonable needs of end-users in terms of geographical coverage, the number of telephones and the quality of services.
In 2006, ComReg published an Information Notice — “Universal Service Obligation — Removal/Relocation of Public Pay Telephones” (No. 06/14) outlining the criteria and procedures for the removal/relocation of public payphones. In accordance with this notice, eircom is obliged to notify ComReg and the relevant local authorities of its intentions to remove specific payphones. Eircom must also post a notice on the relevant public payphone for a minimum period of 6 weeks to clearly inform users of the intention to remove the payphone, proposed date of cessation of service, location of alternative public payphones, eircom’s contact details and the timeframe to allow for the making of comments in relation to the removal of individual phoneboxes. Eircom is obliged to take full account of all comments received and reconsider the proposals, if appropriate.
I understand from ComReg, that eircom has signalled that their intention to remove 2,151 payphones is based on the fact that there has been a steady decline in their usage over the past number of years. The rationalisation is based on the fact there is little or sometimes no traffic being generated on the line and they have become financially unviable. eircom is currently engaged in a period of consultation with the general public and interested parties regarding the removal of the payphones. This consultation period runs until 16th March 2009.
Question No. 429 answered with Question No. 412.
Dáil Éireann 675 Written Answers. Telecommunications Services.