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Snippet Contents:

On 26 March last the European Commission published its proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks. The Commission also submitted its proposal to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament as it is required to do as a preliminary step in the EU legislative process.
The broad aim of the Commission's proposal is to allow investors planning to install next generation broadband infrastructure to identify and negotiate access to useful spare capacity within the infrastructure of other utilities operating in the electricity, gas, transport and water markets and to reduce or remove other identified barriers.
Following publication of the proposal, the Council and Parliament, acting independently of each other initially, must consider the Commission proposal and adopt any amendments they deem necessary.
Transposition within member states will not occur until the Council and Parliament reach agreement and publish a binding legislative text. It is only at that stage that any supplementary requirements, arising at the national level, to give full effect to the EU regulation can be assessed. It is my understanding that formal consideration of the Commission's proposal within the Council will commence in the coming weeks and a timeline for reaching conclusions on the proposal has yet to be set.
In terms of international price comparisons, I would advise the Deputy that ComReg, the market regulator, operates an online call-costs website which allows the public to compare the broadband packages marketed by the competing broadband services providers in any country. It is then a matter for customers to decide the most advantageous package available. ComReg also publishes quarterly statistical reports, which include international comparisons of retail broadband prices for residential and business customers.
The most recent report up to end 2012 shows that retail broadband prices in Ireland available to business users for fixed line broadband access and retail prices for pre-pay and post pay mobile broadband users are less than the EU average. The fixed line broadband charge for residential users exceeds the EU average.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
In the case of fixed line broadband access charges it should be noted that the comparisons do not take account of bundled services. There is an increasing trend of customers migrating to bundled service which provide some combination of fixed telephony, Internet access, TV and mobile telephony services. At the end of 2012, 44% of fixed line broadband customers in Ireland had contracted for a bundled service.