Group fears fight for low internet charges will take time

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner

Cheaper internet charges may take some time to achieve, according to a consumer pressure group which fears the Telecoms Regulator does not have enough power to force through the changes quickly.

IrelandOffline, formed to push Telecoms Regulator Etáin Doyle for flat-rate internet charges, had a number of concerns after their meeting yesterday with Ms Doyle and intend to make a formal submission to the Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation (ODTR).

“We found the meeting useful in giving us a clearer idea of the role of the ODTR,” Martin Harran of IrelandOffline said. “We realise there is a lot going on in the background regarding internet access and our concern is no clear timetable has been set out. We’re not confident the ODTR has the power to make it happen in a timescale we would consider reasonable.”

ODTR spokesperson Brighid Smyth said Eircom has not offered a flat-rate product to customers yet.

“If they did that, they would have to offer it to everyone else,” she said. “If there is a dispute the DTR can intervene. The ODTR has introduced special numbers, which is all they can do at the moment.

The ODTR issued a consultation paper, Ireland an the Internet Communications Transmission and Delivery Issues, on Wednesday and the regulator’s office hopes to get a good response to the paper.

IrelandOffline also met Department of Public Enterprises officials yesterday, and has already met Public Enterprise Minister Mary O’Rourke and Esat to voice their concerns about the lack of development of what they dub “Ireland’s info-boreen.”