Telecommunications

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 8th November 2005.

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Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry Shadow Minister (Higher Education and Intellectual Property)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

(1) what assessment he has made of the reasons why the target set by the telecoms adjudicator for 250,000 lines in the local loop network to be unbundled by June was not met; and if he will make a statement on his assessment of the impact of the failure to meet that target upon the Government's digital strategy;

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that the target set by the telecoms adjudicator for one million lines to be unbundled from the local loop network by June 2006 is met; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (State (Industry and the Regions)), Department of Trade and Industry

The telecommunications adjudicator scheme was initiated by Ofcom, the independent regulator of the communications sector to facilitate scale processes for the unbundling of local loops to meet market demand. Membership of this industry scheme is voluntary by BT Group plc and the LLU operators. Any targets set by the independent adjudicator are a matter for him on the basis of the best information then available.

The pace at which local loops are unbundled is a product of the regulatory framework set by Ofcom; the development of scale processes which is for BT, the industry and the adjudicator within that regulatory framework; and investment decisions by current and prospective LLU operators. I understand that lines are currently being unbundled at the rate of 4,000 a week; a rate that is expected by the adjudicator to rise substantially in the near term as existing broadband operators bulk migrate their customer base to LLU and as significant new operators invest in the market.

The digital strategy is multi-faceted, involving coordination of activities across Government to gain concerted action to deliver the benefits of a digitally enabled UK. Success will require effective partnership between private, public, community and voluntary interests utilising a range of delivery mechanisms, including the internet, mobile and broadcasting technologies. Progress toward implementation is being made across the digital strategy, for example by the DfES on transforming learning with ICT, the Home Office multi agency child internet safety centre and the publication on 1 November, of the strategy for transformational Government enabled by technology, which set out the vision for Government in the twenty-first century.

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