Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee,
to Ian Taylor, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Science and Technology,
Department of Trade and Industry
12194/96 - Green Paper on a numbering policy for telecommunication
services in Europe 12883/96 - Commission Communication
on Assessment Criteria for National Schemes for costing and financing
of universal service in telecommunications
These documents, together with your Explanatory Memoranda
of 19 December and 3 February respectively, were sifted to Sub-Committee
B for scrutiny and considered at the Sub-Committee's meeting on
Thursday 27 February. At that meeting the Sub-Committee held
an informal briefing session to which Mr Don Cruiskshank, Director
General of the Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL), was invited.
The Sub-Committee is grateful to Mr Cruiskshank and the colleagues
who accompanied him for the assistance they were able to give
at that meeting.
The Sub-Committee is concerned about the extent to which
telephone numbers have already been subject to change in recent
years, particularly in London, and would be reluctant to endorse
further such changes unless a convincing case could be made that
the benefits would outweigh the considerable cost and inconvience
such changes impose. Any new numbering system should have an
anticipated life span of many years.
A related factor to which the Sub-Committee attaches some
importance is the ability of customers to retain the same numbers
whichever operator they choose and it was interested to learn
from OFTEL of the progress that had been made in overcoming the
technical obstacles to number portability. On this basis, the
Sub-Committee endorses the Government's view that the timescale
proposed by the Commission for Member States to introduce number
portability could and should be reduced.
This letter lifts the scrutiny reserve and I would be grateful
you could keep me informed of developments in these important
areas of Community policy.
6 March 1997