Timetable for unbundling now in ministers' hands

Key meeting in Luxembourg could decide future of unbundling

E-minister Patricia Hewitt will be among ministers meeting in Luxembourg Tuesday to decide on the future of telecoms across Europe.

It is a key meeting which the European Commission hopes will add political clout to its agenda for shaking up the telecoms landscape. Important issues under discussion include the timetable for unbundling the local loop in member states.

Oftel and BT have clashed with the EC over its insistence the UK cannot be unbundled before the summer of next year. The EC calls for a January 1 deadline and much of the UK Internet industry is keen to see the watchdog bring the timetable forward to this date.

"We hope the meeting will give political agreement to the 1st of January timetable," said an EC spokesman.

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