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Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry when consumers will be able to buy privately-supplied telecommunications subscriber apparatus.

The Government's target is that independent arrangements for the approval of most kinds of attachment to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) will come into operation in July 1982.We are, however, taking steps to bring forward the benefits of liberalisation immediately. As of today suppliers can submit extension telephones for evaluation under arrangements for interim approvals prepared jointly by the Department of Industry and British Telecom. In the following week the same arrangements will apply to discrete modems.The Government have also released details of the overall liberalisation programme. Where competitive supply has not already been allowed by British Telecom it should be able to begin soon after July 1982, as the first independent approvals are given. These arrangements will be extended to other PSTN attachments over the following twelve months; independent approval of private automatic branch exchanges (PABXs) is expected to begin in July 1983.The corresponding target date for the approval of simple telex teleprinters is October 1982, and arrangements for other telex equipment are expected to take effect in the period from then to July 1983. Details are contained in a statement which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.In the light o f the importance that the Government attach to the successful implementation of this programme, I have asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Industry to supervise these arrangements.