§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the President of the Board of Trade how long is the average time taken for a modem to receive BABT approval; and what steps he intends to take about misleading advertisements which do not clearly state when advertised modems are unapproved.
§ Mr. Leigh
The time taken for a modem to receive British Approvals Board of Telecommunications approval will vary greatly according to the design and complexity of the equipment, whether or not it complies with the standards, or requires further work by the applicant before compliance is achieved. BABT statistics indicate that a fully compliant "standard" modem, requiring no alteration at the testing stage, will take six to eight weeks from the date of acceptance of the test sample by the 205W laboratory to the issue by BABT of the type approval. BABT would expect to take two weeks of that period to evaluate test results, manufacturing details and documentation and, if satisfied, issue the certificate. The minimum recorded time is three weeks from application to approval.
Advertisement and display of the approval status of telecommunications terminal equipment is a matter for the Director General of Telecommunications. He takes whatever action is appropriate to enforce the orders. The Department and Oftel, in consultation with manufacturers, operators and users, will continue to monitor and review the operation of the advertising orders.
§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the current procedures for the obtaining of BABT approval for devices connected to the public telephone network, the length of time such approvals take and on his assessment of the need for the approval system as it currently operates.
§ Mr. Leigh
In common with virtually all developed countries, telecommunications terminal equipment must be approved before it can be legally connected to the United Kingdom public telecommunications network in order to protect the PTN, and its operators and users, from harm.
The British Approvals Board for Telecommunications is the approval authority in the United Kingdom for all types of telecommunications terminal equipment. It evaluates the applications, accompanying documentation, manufacturing details and test results on the equipment and, if satisfied, issues a type approval. As far as categorisation is possible, a "typical" type approval, for a single-line apparatus, would be expected to take eight to 12 weeks from the date the applicant submits a sample of the product to one of the five designated laboratories, to the issue of the type approval by BABT. The time spent at the test laboratory, in particular, necessarily varies greatly; major determinants include the complexity of the equipment and the level of testing required, whether the equipment passes first time or fails part of the testing schedule, needs adjustment by the manufacturer and testing again. For its part, BABT will normally carry out evaluation and issue of the approval within two weeks for a compliant product.
The United Kingdom is an acknowledged leader in Europe in liberalisation of equipment approvals procedures. Consistent with our EC obligations, we will continue to review, with BABT, Oftel and terminal manufacturers, network operators and users, ways of simplifying the United Kingdom approvals regime.