Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

60 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he is preparing a directive for ComReg in relation to universal service provision by Eircom, in view of the recent submission from that company to ComReg; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10817/03]

I have no plans to issue a directive to ComReg in relation to universal service provision. The designation of universal service providers and the obligations imposed on them are set out in the European Communities (Voice Telephony and Universal Service) Regulations 1999 (S.I. No. 71 of 1999). It is a matter for the Commission for Communications Regulation, or ComReg, as the independent regulator for the communications sector, to implement this legislation. I have no function in relation to the implementation of the universal service obligations.

The legislation places obligations on the designated universal service operator to ensure that a defined minimum set of services of specified quality are available to all, independently of their geographical location, at an affordable price. While the governing legislation on universal service provision will be revised in accordance with a new universal service directive which is to be transposed into national law by 25 July 2003, the universal service obligations which I have just described will continue to be applied and enforced by ComReg. On the other hand, as Minister I am empowered to impose a levy equivalent to the cost of replanting. This option may be availed of by a developer as an alternative to the purchasing and planting of another site.