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Do metered calls put Europe at a disadvantage? asks MP

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The Government is to be tackled in the House of Commons about the cost of Net access in the UK. Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb has half-an-hour on Wednesday to find out the Government's position on the cost of Net access and whether it believes anything needs to be done. It will also shed more light on the Government's wired credentials. In an interview with The Register the MP for Northavon, near Bristol, said that he hoped the motion would help raise awareness about the problem of metered call charges for Net access. He also hopes it will force the Government to come clean and state its position once and for all. "The key question is whether Europe is lagging behind the US in terms of growth of the Internet because of the cost of phone calls," said Webb. "If it is, is there a role for Government [to remedy this]?" The Government's view is that telco charges are not high and that it is for the market to decide what those charges should be. But Webb thinks that pricing structures for Net access are not just a case of rudimentary economics. He believes it is so important that it transcends such arguments and deserves Government intervention. "The Government has to say what is in the best interest of society," said Webb, "and want a convincing answer from them." Webb's motion, Regulation of telecommunications and the growth of the Internet, will be heard at 1.00pm this Wednesday. ®

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