HL Deb 17 February 1988 vol 493 c749WA
Lord Kimball

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to liberalise the provision of specialised satellite services and how they view such services in relation to the telecommunications duopoly.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Lord Young of Graffham)

The Government remain committed to the duopoly policy in telecommunications which was announced in November 1983. The Government made clear then that it did not intend to licence operators other than BT and Mercury to provide the basic telecommunication service of conveying messages over fixed links whether cable, radio or satellite either domestically or internationally. This position will not be reviewed until November 1990.

The Government also made clear that it would give consideration to ways of introducing new specialised services by satellite. I am now proposing a degree of liberalisation in this area. Before settling the final details, I am allowing a six-week consultation period on how the arrangements set out below should be brought into practice.

My present intention is to license up to another six operators to provide point to multi-point satellite-based third party services in the UK only. If more than six acceptable proposals are put to me in a one-month qualifying period after the consultation period has ended, I will ask the Director General of Telecommunications to advise me which of the applicants to license.

I am also intending to license receive-only terminals on users' premises. Users will be licensed to receive all kinds of satellite-delivered services within the scope of the Telecommunications Act 1984, whether national or international. A licence under that Act will be issued shortly after the end of the consultation period. The licence will not permit users to convey the signals received onwards beyond their own premises. I shall shortly make an announcement about the implications of this decision for the licensing regime under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.