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E-minister frustrated by pace of unbundling

While e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt believes that the UK is one of the best places to do e-business, she is also frustrated at the pace of telecoms deregulation

E-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt opened London’s E-business Expo on Tuesday by declaring that the UK is one of the best places in the world to do e-business.

Hewitt said the government is driving through fundamental change in the economy, but admitted her frustration at the pace of telecoms deregulation.

“For me, the number one priority is to drive competition further and faster into the telecommunications marketplace. I know that many of you here will be frustrated by the speed and progress on local loop unbundling. We would all like to have seen it yesterday," she said.

Hewitt added that every country that has attempted to unbundle the local loop has had problems.

She also promised to remove the contradictions between Department of Trade & Industry guidelines on the monitoring of emails and those of the data protection commissioner.

By January, Hewitt said: “We will ensure there is a single set of authoritative guidelines to protect privacy.”

On the eve of E-Business Expo, Conservative leader William Hague told entrepreneurs that the government should listen more to people with a stake in e-business to ensure that the UK keeps its advantage in a rapidly changing world economy,

In the e-business age companies can go anywhere in the world, said Hague. “Therefore, if we have tax advantages we should widen them rather than close them, and if our regulations are better we should accentuate them, not harmonise them away,” he said.

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