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Mobile Telephony.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 5 May 2005

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Questions (35, 36)

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

13 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he has issued instructions directly or through the regulator with a view to a reduction in mobile telephone costs here in line with other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14507/05]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he has issued instructions directly or through the regulator with a view to a reduction in mobile telephone costs here in line with other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14738/05]

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

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 160 together.

I have no function in the setting of pricing for phone services. The regulation of telecommunications operators, including pricing for mobile services, is the responsibility of the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, in accordance with the requirements of the Communications Regulation Act 2002 and regulations made under the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications.

As Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, I have responsibility for overall telecoms policy and my main goal in this policy is to create conditions for sustainable growth and competition that will benefit the economic and social development of Ireland and facilitate competitive services.

It is my belief that improving the market conditions to enhance competition is the best way to drive down mobile phone charges to the end user. The more competitive telecoms services that are on offer, the better in the long run for consumers, the sector and the economy.

In March 2004, my predecessor issued policy directions to ComReg, including a direction on competition. The direction on competition mandates ComReg to focus on competition as a key objective, with a particular focus on competition in the fixed and mobile markets, and to implement where necessary, remedies which counteract or remove barriers to entry and support entry by new players to the market and entry into new sectors by existing players and to have particular regard to the following also: market share of new entrants; ensuring that the applicable margin attributable to a product at the wholesale level is sufficient to promote and sustain competition; price level to the end user; and the potential of alternative technology delivery platforms to support competition. ComReg has, as one of its key objectives, under the Communications Regulation Act 2002, the promotion of competition in the exercise of its functions. Competition in the fixed and mobile markets will drive down prices for consumers.

I have no information to say that Irish mobile charges are generally the highest in Europe. However, ComReg's quarterly key data for the Irish communications market for Q4 2004 indicate that the Irish mobile operators' average revenue per user is the second highest in Europe. Switzerland has the highest.

The Deputies will be aware that in February 2005, ComReg designated Vodafone and O2 as having joint dominance in the wholesale mobile access and call origination market. Following on from this, in March of this year, ComReg placed an obligation on Vodafone and O2, requiring them to provide access to other companies on their networks.

Vodafone, O2 and Meteor have notified me that they wish to appeal to an appeal panel ComReg's finding of joint dominance and the resulting obligations imposed by ComReg on Vodafone and O2 to give other operators access to their networks. My officials are currently examining these notifications of appeal.

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