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Public Telephones

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations he has made to BT on its observance of its universal service obligation in its proposed payphone removal programme. (218203)

[holding answer 14 July 2008]: No such representation has been made to BT. The Universal Service Obligation is administered by Ofcom (the independent regulator). Ofcom requires BT to ensure that there is adequate provision of public call boxes (PCBs) to meet the reasonable needs of end-users in terms of numbers, geographical coverage and quality of service.

Ofcom has set rules which ensure that BT cannot remove the last PCB from an area if the local authority objects. In its guidelines Ofcom has identified lack of mobile coverage as one of the reasons why the local authority might wish to consider objecting.