HL Deb 11 May 1988 vol 496 cc1212-3WA
Lord Rodney

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a further statement on the liberalisation of specialised satellite telecommunications services announced on 17th February.

Lord Young of Graffham

On 17th February I announced the intention to grant up to six new licences for the uplinking of one-way point to multipoint satellite-based third party telecommunications services in the UK. I indicated that details would be finalised at the end of a consultation period.

Following intensive consultations with a wide range of companies and organisations, applications for the licences are being invited as from today. Detailed notes for the guidance of applicants are also being released today. Applicants will have until Monday 13th June to submit their applications to my department. As indicated in my earlier statement, my decision on which applicants to licence will be taken in the light of advice from the Director General of Telecommunications.

As the notes for guidance make clear, the Telecommunications Act licences concerned will have a duration of 12 years. They will permit each licensee to uplink from not more than three separate sites. Licensees will be authorised to operate transportable earth stations and each transportable operated will count as a site against the maximum of three. Licensees will be able to provide services in their own right, both to third parties and for their own benefit, but will also be expected to offer uplink services to other service providers on similar carriage terms.

These arrangements should lead to a spread of uplink facilities while companies who wish to be service providers but not to run their own uplinks should benefit from a wider choice of uplink sites. I believe these arrangements will lead to the growth of a significant number of new services and the rapid development of this sector of the telecommunications market.

In the Hull area, the existing licence granted to the public telecommunications operator, Kingston Communications, already authorises it to operate satellite-based services subject to my approval. I have not so far given this approval, but I intend in due course to agree to the uplinking from within Hull of the same sort of one way point to multipoint services that the new licensees will be able to provide. This will further widen the spread of uplink locations and the choice available to users.

During the consultation period, some concern was expressed about the requirement for the new licensees to go through British Telecom and to provide information to it in its role as the UK signatory to the INTELSAT and EUTELSAT treaties. I have therefore asked the Director General of Telecommunications to review the arrangements BT have in place or envisage in this area to ensure that they will function satisfactorily.

I also expect to issue soon the class licence for the running of receive-only downlinks, which was announced in my statement of 17th February. Some details are included in the notes for guidance.

Copies of the notes for guidance are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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