Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications
The Issues

  • Why Metering is Wrong
  • Metering People's Lives
  • Two Countries, Two Approaches
  • Metering Democracy
  • Battling a Switched-Off Westminster
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  • OFTEL Stance
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  • Government Stance

    There will not be a true information society until everybody is able to make use of it.

    Barbara Roche MP, during the House of Commons debate on the Information Society (Hansard, 11 July 1997, col 1236)

    On 23 July 1996, the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology published a very detailed report entitled Information Society: Agenda for Action in the UK. This report presented a very clear case in favour of wider access to online information in the UK and highlighted a range of issues that are currently inhibiting this, among them the affordability of the 'necessary equipment or line usage'. (This report has the distinction of being the first Select Committee report from either House of the UK Parliament to be published online before being printed on paper).

    On 14 July 1997, the Government set up a new Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport as a permanent addition to the various existing Select Committees within the UK Parliament, chaired by Gerald Kaufman. As the name suggests, this Committee has a very wide brief but, on 8 May 1998, they published the results of their Enquiry into Changing Technologies.

    One of the forecasts included in the report was that, by the year 2010, BT expects around 90 per cent of the country to have an Internet connection.

    Given UK pricing structures, this is surely said more in hope than expectation.

    On 9th June 1999, Steve Webb MP secured a further debate in the House of Commons under the title 'Regulation of Telecommunications and the Growth of the Internet' (see Hansard for full transcript). Michael Wills, Minister for Communications, responded to Steve Webb's speech with a prepared text which failed to address any of the issues raised. Our opinions have been expressed here.

    The Government needs to do more to make existing and new Internet technologies available to everyone. See here for what you can do to make them do so.

    Text by Richard Sliwa

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