By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The two leading state-owned companies in the communications business, the post office and the telephone company, have failed to resolve a row about their competing Internet services at home and now the matter is before the EU commissioner for Competition, Karel Van Miert.
An Post has lodged an official complaint against Bord Telecom, accusing it of uncompetitive practices by cross-subsidizing its two Internet servers, Indigo and Tinet.
Public Enterprise Minister Mary O’Rourke strongly denied she was "livid" or had any difficulty with the fact that two of the companies under the umbrella of her Department had taken their differences to Brussels.
"Far from thinking this is wrong or that there is anything untoward about it, I actually think it is a sure sign that both companies have their eye on the ball — and that ball is called competition," O’Rourke said.
"Both An Post and Telecom were monopolies. Every day I am preaching and the department is preaching, come on, shape up, change, get out into the market place, diversify, sell your wares.
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"With those changes clearly there is going to be friction and jostling."
She said that Brussels was looking more and more at how we did business and that was good.
An Post is claiming that its two subsidiaries, Ireland Online, an Internet provider, and PostGEM, an electronic messaging service, are suffering because Telecom is giving more favorable rates and preferential treatment to its subsidiaries.
The minister said that the director of telecommunications regulation, Etain Doyle, had offered to intervene in the dispute.