Business News

New Legislation to Empower Consumers and Strengthen ComReg’s Regulatory Toolbox

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, and Minister of State for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD, have both welcomed the commencement of the Communications Regulation and Digital Hub Development Agency (Amendment) Act 2023 to strengthen ComReg’s regulatory toolbox.

The legislation provides greater protections and means of redress for customers, including:

  • Greater powers for ComReg to enforce operators’ obligations.
  • The establishment of an enhanced alternative dispute resolution process.
  • New powers for ComReg to set minimum quality of service standards that operators must guarantee to their consumers.
  • A new compensation scheme that will entitle consumers to compensation for specific customer service failings on the part of their operator.
  • A new “Customer Charter” that will clearly set out the standards consumers can expect their services to provide.
  • Provisions regarding the improved security of electronic communications networks.

Commenting on this development, Minister Ryan said, “I am delighted that the Communications Regulation and Digital Hub Development Agency (Amendment) Act 2023 has commenced in its entirety. This Act succeeds in establishing a regulatory landscape fit for the digital age and within which Ireland’s electronic communications sector can thrive.”

Together the Act and the European Union (Electronic Communications Code) Regulations 2022, which also commence, transpose the European Electronic Communications Code. This represents a revision of the entire EU regulatory framework for the telecommunications sector.

Minister Smyth said, “the communications sector is a vital component of our modern society, and this has never been truer than in the last couple of years when we have relied on it more than ever. Making sure that ComReg have the tools to effectively regulate the sector is key not only to facilitating competition, but also to helping consumers receive the best service possible.”

The legislation will strengthen ComReg’s regulatory toolbox – enabling them to act more effectively and efficiently. It provides them with a new civil enforcement regime and an updated criminal enforcement procedure for the electronic communications sector, fulfilling a key commitment in the Programme for Government 2020.

Another vital component of the Bill is the transposition of the security provisions of the Code (Articles 40 and 41). These provide a mechanism for the Minister to specify security measures by Regulation, to make guidelines relating to network security and to provide a legislative basis to enforce Electronic Communications Security Measures.

Minister Smyth added, “digital connectivity has become a vital part of all our lives. This Bill will ensure that the operators of electronic communications networks and services are implementing rigorous security measures to protect their networks, whilst giving ComReg the appropriate powers to enforce on that high level of security.”

ComReg Chair and Commissioner Robert Mourik was also pleased with the commencement of the legislation, saying, “ComReg welcomes commencement of the Communications Regulation and Digital Hub Development Agency (Amendment) Act 2023 and the EU (Electronic Communications Code) Regulations 2022 as an important milestone in the development of telecoms regulation in Ireland. This legislation will transpose the European Electronic Communications Code and ensure that the telecoms regulatory framework in Ireland is strengthened in this digital age.”

“This legislative package brings ComReg’s regulatory powers into line with those of other Irish regulators, and with telecoms regulators across the EU. It will give ComReg more effective regulatory tools to carry out its mandate. ComReg welcomes the introduction of a substantial number of new consumer protection measures in the legislation which provide for the establishment of minimum quality of service standards, a new compensation scheme that will entitle consumers to compensation for failings by operators, and an enhanced alternative dispute resolution mechanism for consumers. This legislation will benefit consumers, businesses and ultimately for the economy and society as a whole. Once all supporting Statutory Instruments are also in place, this legislative package will enable ComReg to exercise the full range of new powers provided for in the legislation.”

Related Posts