Rural broadband users could see their bills increase as the Commission for Communications Regulation (Comreg) has found that urban broadband customers are subsidising rural users.

Comreg which regulates the price of broadband and phone services ruled that rural internet users are not paying the full cost of broadband provision in parts of the country.

This means that Eircom could potentially apply to the regulator to raise its rural broadband prices to recover costs associated with providing services outside of the main cities.

Comreg says the ruling complies with European law, would affect all operators seeking to resell broadband services on Eircom landlines.

Comreg said: “Eircom appears to be under-recovering its costs. There is a cross-subsidy from urban areas into areas outside. If there were evidence of such an under-recovery, Eircom may be allowed to charge correspondingly higher prices outside urban areas, subject to the proposed notification and approval procedures.”

The ruling comes just days after a new partnership between Vodafone and the ESB was announced which plans to bring high speed fibre power broadband to 50 towns throughout the country.

Under this plan, the ESB distribution network would be used to roll out a fibre network across the country. It is initially planned for some 50 towns and surrounding areas and will allow those parts of rural Ireland to have access to a fibre network that would be unthinkable in other circumstances.