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British Telecommunications

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the criteria upon which licences to carry messages and information on behalf of others, and in conformity with the provisions of the British Telecommunications Act 1981, have so far been granted.

Subject to the phasing provisions announced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State on 30 July, the criteria agreed with British Telecom are that in order to be licensed telecommunications services should add genuine additional value to the basic telecommunications network services by providing one or both of the following elements:

  • (a) a significant storage of information, apparent to the user of the service;
  • (b) processing of the information by the value added network services (VANS) operator, such that the output information clearly and significantly differs from the input information in format, protocol and content.
  • I understand that British Telecommunications will shortly be granting the first licenses under these criteria and the provisions of the British Telecommunications Act 1981.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether IBM, Extel, Swift, Topic or Reuters have been licensed, under the provisions of the British Telecommunications Act 1981, to convey messages on behalf of others; how many other companies have been so licensed; and how many companies have been refused licences.

    Extel, Swift, Topic and Reuters already run telecommunications systems under licences granted by the Post Office, which remain valid under the British Telecommunications Act 1981. I am not aware that IBM has applied for a specific licence. No applications for licences under the provisions of the Act have yet been granted or refused. British Telecom expect to grant the first such licences shortly.