asked the Secretary of State for Industry what means his Department has devised for assessing the acceptability of value added network services prior to issuing licences; and what criteria will be adopted.
The Department's intention is to licence any person who wishes to run systems connected to the telecommunication systems run by British Telecom in order to provide services to third parties on condition that the services add value to the basic transmission service provided by BT. The criteria agreed with BT which will identify a genuine value added network service have been defined as follows:
A value added service is one which allows information to be interchanged directly between users of the service but not without first being:
(a) stored by the value added operator for the purpose of being subsequently retrieved or forwarded; or (b) processed by the value added operator in such a way that when delivered the messages have been clearly altered as to format, protocol or content.
These criteria are included in a guide for licence applicants which was published by the Department in March. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The Secretary of State has appointed a panel of three independent experts to advise him on issues relating to licensing.