Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (113, 114)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

114 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will make a statement on recent media reports regarding the quality of the national communications grid now owned by Eircom; his views on whether these reports are accurate; and if his Department has made estimates of the levels of investment necessary to maintain the network at the highest levels. [8200/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

I am responsible for policy in respect of the telecommunications sector. The responsibility for regulation of the sector rests with ComReg — the telecommunications regulator. Responsibility for the quality and investment in telecommunications networks is a matter in the first instance for the telecommunications operators. The detailed planning and operation of telecommunications networks is also a matter for each operator. ComReg monitors the operators' quality of service performance and periodically publishes its results.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

115 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will issue a directive to ComReg to amend the universal service obligation for telecommunications operators to define a consumer’s basic right to a reasonable level of functional Internet access to address the number of phone lines failing the quality test indicators for broadband. [8201/04]

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Regulation 3(2)(c) of the universal service regulations provides for the placing of obligations on designated undertakings to provide connections that shall be capable of allowing end-users make and receive data communications at data rates that are sufficient to permit functional Internet access. Implementation of the aforementioned regulations is a matter for ComReg.

I understand that ComReg is currently in discussions with Eircom, the designated universal service provider, about ensuring that the Eircom network is capable of delivering the universal service obligations in regard to functional Internet access. Internet access at a broadband standard is not currently provided for under the USO. However, this can be reviewed by the regulator in the context of the universal service obligations, subject to the Minister's consent, as broadband becomes more widely available.