The postal services market has been fully open to competition since 1 January 2011. The 2011 Act charges the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as the postal regulator, with the promotion of the development of the postal sector and particularly the availability of the universal postal service, the promotion of the interests of users and the facilitation of the development of competition in the sector. Under the 2011 Act, An Post is statutorily required, as the designated universal service provider, to provide a universal postal service. The essential element of this obligation is the collection and delivery of mail to every address in the State on every working day. The companies referred to by the Deputy are not designated universal service providers and do not accordingly come under the same provisions of the 2011 Act as An Post.
The Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011 requires that any person who is providing or intending to provide a postal service shall, before doing so, make a notification to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The term “postal services” is defined by the 2011 Act as “services involving the clearance, sorting, transport and distribution of postal packets”. The two distinguishing features of a “postal packet” are that it is addressed and that is has been accepted or intended for transmission by post. ComReg has concluded that “Document Exchange” and “Express and Courier services” and the delivery of unaddressed advertising material lack certain constituent features by which to be deemed “postal services”. An Post is listed on the ComReg Register of Authorised Postal Service Providers whereas the companies referred to by the Deputy are not listed.