In December 2000 the European Parliament and Council adopted a regulation on unbundled access to the local loop. The regulation, which is binding in its entirety in all member states, applies to unbundled access to the local loops - both full unbundled access to the local loop and shared access - and related facilities of notified operators.

Article 3.1 of the regulation requires the notified operator (ie, eircom in Ireland) to publish from December 31 2000, and keep updated, a reference offer for unbundled access to its local loops and related facilities. The Annex to the regulation provides a minimum list of items to be included in such a reference offer.

Article 3.2 of the regulation requires the notified operator to meet reasonable requests from beneficiaries for unbundled access to their local loops and related facilities under transparent, fair and non-discriminatory conditions. Requests shall only be refused on the basis of objective criteria relating to technical feasibility or the need to maintain network integrity.

Article 4 of the regulation requires the national regulatory authority to ensure that the granting of access to the local loop by the notified operator fosters fair and sustainable competition. The authority is also empowered to intervene on its own initiative in order to ensure non-discrimination, fair competition, economic efficiency and maximum benefit to users.

In December 2000 eircom published a draft Reference Offer for Local Loop Unbundling. The Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation (ODTR) raised a number of specific concerns in relation to the draft, including:

  • the definition of space available for collocation;

  • restrictions on equipment that can be collocated; and

  • the prohibition of collocation space sharing.

ODTR Information Notice 01/01, published on January 18 2001, indicates that the above areas of concern have now been addressed. The notice indicates that eircom has agreed to amend the draft to meet the director's concern that links made in the draft between rental of collocation space and request of loops were inconsistent with the regulation.

With regard to pricing, the ODTR has noted that some of the key prices quoted in the draft are high in comparison to preliminary results of ODTR models and international comparisons. The ODTR has indicated that it intends to carry out a detailed review and analysis of eircom's cost justification and pricing principles with the intention of agreeing and determining pricing by the end of February 2001. The director has welcomed eircom's approach in setting prices on a geographically averaged basis.

For further information on this topic please contact David Sanfey at A & L Goodbody by telephone (+353 1 649 2000) or by fax (+353 1 649 2649) or by e-mail ([email protected]).

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