§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to ensure the continued growth of the IT and communications infrastructure. 
§ Ms Hewitt
[holding answer 20 January 2000]: We will continue to work with Oftel and the European Commission to ensure that the regulatory framework promotes competition and investment in communications infrastructure and services. This year will see the grant of licences for third generation mobile and broadband fixed wireless services which will give a major boost to competition in broadband services. BT is also investing heavily in upgrading its local loop so that competing service providers can provide new broadband services from this Spring. Competing telecoms operators will also be able to provide such services over unbundled local loop from July 2001.