Free Net calls group to meet minister

Are Blair and co. about to pull a massive U-turn?

The Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT) is to meet the Minister for E-commerce on Wednesday to call on the government to cut the cost of Net access in the UK. News of the meeting between the lobby group and Patricia Hewitt has left many people wondering whether this is a carefully calculated PR exercise to stifle criticism that the government is not doing enough, or whether it could be about to signal a U-turn in government policy. Only last month, Hewitt told a conference at the London School of Economics that she wanted to cut the cost of Net access for consumers -- but that it wasn't her priority. Any inkling that Hewitt was paving the way for the government to alter its position on the cost of Net access was quickly snuffed out by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). A spokeswoman there said it was still government policy to let the market decide on the cost of Net access. So what's changed? Nothing really, except that a few very vocal names, including Rupert Murdoch's News International, have started to whinge about the cost of Net access. But even this New Labour government isn't that transparent, is it? ®

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