Ireland slides down telecoms poll

 Ireland has slumped to mid-table mediocrity in the European rankings for telecommunications competitiveness.


The European Competitive Telecommunication Association (ECTA) scorecard saw Ireland drop to ninth place in the table of seventeen European nations, having been ranked fifth last year.

Britain topped the table, followed by Denmark and France. The ECTA survey showed these leading nations had been more active than most in their attempts to open up their telecommunications markets to competition. Poland was the worst performing of the nations surveyed, with Greece and Germany also amongst the back markers. The study found that under-performing nations such as these had struggled to create a competitive environment.

The ECTA scorecard measures how effectively EU member states have liberalised their national telecoms sectors.The survey said there was a clear link between the effectiveness of telecommunications legislation and the level of broadband take up. The study found that Ireland was amongst a group of nations where effective and appropriate regulation of the market was not clear, and take-up of broadband was below the European average of 15 percent. Tom Hickey, chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators, said Ireland's poor performance was due to ComReg lacking punch. 

"ComReg needs enforcement powers," said Hickey. "They have had a lack of power for some time." He said the continuing problems surrounding local loop unbundling meant there were limits on how open the market could be. "Aside from the wireless operators, most of the providers are basically reselling Eircom's package," said Hickey. "By giving ComReg the power to open up the market it would give users access to higher capacity broadband and allow different products to come on the market."

Hickey said the proposed Electronic Communications bill would give ComReg more power to enable a competitive environment. "Minister [Noel Dempsey] has said theywill be given these powers in the upcoming telecoms bill," said Hickey. "The Minister has said it will happen before Christmas and I am reasonably confident that it will."