Users call for government action to protect telecoms infrastructure

The Government cannot rely on market forces to deal with the collapse of a major telecoms provider.

The Government cannot rely on market forces to deal with the collapse of a major telecoms provider.

That was the message from an emergency meeting of two authoritative industry bodies, the Communications Management Association, (CMA) and the Telecom Users' Association (TUA).

The CMA is the UK's main professional association for communications users. Its members spend almost £10bn a year on IT and telecommunications services, while the TUA is major independent association of business users of IT and telecommunications services.

The two organisations convened the meeting in the aftermath of the WorldCom and KPNQwest disasters, to discuss the wider consequences to user businesses and public services.

Delegates from more than 60 major UK companies and public services expressed deep concern at the potential damage to all types of organisations from a major network shutdown.

Observers from the Department of Trade and Industry were told that reliance by government, regulator and others on "the market" to compensate for any individual telco's difficulties was unrealistic.

"The unanimous view was that a clear and urgent need for legislative and regulatory action exists, at both the UK and EU level, taking into account the changed nature of the global telecommunications market and its foreseeable financial condition," said Glenn Powell, chief executive of CMA.

Bill Mieran, executive chairman of the TUA, expressed particular concern about the risks to small business. "While many larger organisations are taking, or will be taking, steps to protect themselves, we are concerned that the SME sector may be especially vulnerable," he said.

The CMA and the TUA will jointly lobby Government to put a higher priority on protection for business users of communications.

The two organisations will also devise support programmes to assist both members and the wider business community in the event of a major network supplier hitting problems.

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