Vodafone executive launches criticism at ComReg

The chief operating officer of Vodafone Group has slammed a proposal by the Irish telecom watchdog, ComReg, to force the UK mobile operator to open up its network to rivals.

The chief operating officer of Vodafone Group has slammed a proposal by the Irish telecom watchdog, ComReg, to force the UK mobile operator to open up its network to rivals.

Julian Horn-Smith said in an interview with the Irish Times that ComReg is trying to push "badly thought-through regulation" on the telecoms market.

His comments were in response to ComReg's proposals to force the country's two biggest mobile operators, Vodafone and O2, to allow other operators access to their networks. ComReg reached this decision after a review of the mobile phone market in Ireland showed that Ireland had one of the most concentrated markets in the EU, with the two leading players having 95% of customers between them.

Horn-Smith said in an interview in The Irish Times that the decision to impose regulation on the mobile market would "no doubt be popular but it would be highly destructive".

However, ComReg believes that regulation is necessary because Irish mobile users are paying far more for calls than their European counterparts. The regulator said on Wednesday that Irish average revenue per user (ARPU) figures were much higher than those in other EU countries.

The mobile phone companies argue that this is because of higher usage, but ComReg said the evidence for this was 'inconclusive'.

"The fact that people spend more because they speak more is not a reason to regulate," Horn-Smith said. "Capricious or populist regulation can be destructive because it can discourage investment."

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