One of the key objectives of the regulatory framework governing the telecommunications sector is to improve competition among operators in the sector. The regulatory framework includes a number of provisions to enhance competition among broadband and internet providers. Among these provisions is the requirement on operators with significant market power in the fixed public telephone networks to allow unbundled access to the local loop. This provision is important in enabling the competitive provision of DSL services to customers. Competition in the supply of DSL services is now under way in the Irish market.
In relation to dial-up access to the Internet, competitive provision of flat-rate dial-up services will shortly be in place in the Irish market. This follows my policy direction to the Commission for Communications Regulation to put in place the provision of retail flat-rate dial-up internet access services. Comreg used its powers to bring about the provision by Eircom of what is known as FRIACO, a wholesale service to operators to enable flat-rate retail products to be offered to consumers.
The regulatory framework has recently been reformed at EU level and currently my Department is engaged in the transposition of the Electronic Communications Regulatory Package into Irish law. Transposition of the new framework into national law must be completed by 25 July this year and I expect that Ireland will have completed the necessary work on time.
This new regulatory framework is intended to provide a coherent, reliable and flexible approach to the regulation of electronic communication networks and services. The framework focuses regulation on areas where competition is insufficient and provides a lighter regulatory touch where markets have become more competitive. It will be a matter for Comreg to evaluate the state of competition in the sector, including the provision of broadband and internet access and, as appropriate, to impose regulatory obligations in order to bring about effective competition.