The Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, as the independent regulator of the sector, has the responsibility under the transposed European regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services and the Communications (Regulation) Act 2002 to regulate the electronic communications sector, including the areas raised by the Deputy. It has statutory independence in carrying out this function.
As Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, I have responsibility for overall strategic policy and legislation in the sector. In this regard section 13 of the Communications (Regulation) Act 2002 allows me to issue policy directions to ComReg, in the interest of the proper and effective regulation of the electronic communications markets. However, actual regulatory interventions or decisions relating to operators, such as prices, are the responsibility of ComReg, the independent regulator.
ComReg in its quarterly market reviews undertakes comparative studies against the other EU member states. I am aware that post-pay mobile phone costs in Ireland remain higher than the EU average but it is also true that in August 2004 the OECD found we had the fourth lowest costs for pre-paid mobile phones. It is important in considering the price competitiveness to the end user to make a judgment across telecommunications services. Furthermore, the current high penetration rate of mobile phones indicates that Irish business and consumers have a range of products and pricing options which broadly meets their needs.