Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
National Broadband Plan: Discussion
For clarification, ComReg can request information and Eir will provide it. In his opening statement Mr. Blaney described ComReg as operating in a market, but there is no market. As Eir is the sole owner of the network, there is no market. The State is dealing with a monopoly. The public have raised the issue of the lack of investment in the network since Eircom was sold by the Fianna Fáil-led Government in 1999. Many poles throughout the country are falling over and some have collapsed into ditches. However - hey presto - in recent months new poles have been installed. It seems that Eir has discovered that it is guaranteed an income stream and that it is in its interests to erect new poles because ComReg will point out to it that wires cannot be hung on a pole that has broken in half or fallen into a ditch.
What is really happening here is the public is subsidising the reinvestment in their pole and duct network, which has been neglected by all of the different capitalist entities that have flipped and sold Eircom at different times when it was passed from one to another like a game of Monopoly over the past 20 years. Now, by and large, the public is to subsidise the renewal of that pole network. If one drives around one can see that this is what is happening on the ground in getting ready for that scenario. Effectively, the commission is not dealing with a market.