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September 19, 1995

OFFICE OF TELECOMS WANTS FIRMS TO INVEST IN INFOHIGHWAY

By CBR Staff Writer

The UK Office of Telecommunications industry regulator has published a discussion document, Beyond The Telephone, The Television And The Personal Computer, in which it outlines its thoughts on – and requests suggestions for – the setting of rules for a superhighway code. Oftel director Don Cruickshank said that one of his aims is to encourage investment by letting future players know what rules are likely to be set. He said he wants any new rules to fit without undermining the existing legislative and regulatory framework. Oftel sees the convergence of television broadcasting and customer control delivering unlimited channels, as heralding the information revolution, and said that its key features will be broadband technology, switched transmission and content, and services aimed at the mass market. Hence it has coined a new term to define its interest: BSM, for Broadband, Switched and Mass market. The regulator accepted that other bodies will regulate any content offered over the information superhighway, but added that its own experience with chat lines and premium-rate telephone services made it aware of all the possible pitfalls. It is concerned, however, with preventing companies from dominating the businesses of providing services, distribution capacity or consumer equipment, such as television set-top boxes. Experience has shown that persuading companies with rival telecommunications, or distribution, networks to interconnect is a major problem that threatens consumer choice and can stifle open competition, said Cruickshank. Oftel wants any comments on the document by the end of November.

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