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Alex Allan
The e-envoy talks to BBC News Online
 real 28k

Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 18:02 GMT
E-envoy predicts cheaper web connection

The e-envoy logs on via the TV

The government's so-called e-envoy Alex Allan has predicted that unmetered local telephone calls will greatly reduce the cost of using the internet in the UK.

The move would prove a huge boost to e-commerce and could help Prime Minister Tony Blair realise his goal of making the UK the best place to trade online.

Speaking to BBC News Online, Mr Allan said that the industry's independent regulator Oftel was looking into the issue with British Telecom.

He said: "A lot of negotiations are going on about setting up packages that will produce unmetered local calls - and I think that is something we will see."

Alex Allan takes on Dreamcast
It was also vital, Mr Allan said, to get broadband internet access, meaning faster connections, "rolled out as fast as possible, for as many people as possible."

The e-envoy was speaking during his first public appearance since taking up the job this month.

In an upbeat assessment of the UK's performance in new information technologies, Mr Allan said the UK is "charging ahead in take up for digital TV and in new mobile phones technologies.

"We've seen a big surge in the take up of e-commerce by the private sector, and more people are getting out there and using the internet to buy gifts and goods."

Mr Allan also announced that the Cabinet Office has launched a web forum, to gather the views of those at the cutting edge of e-tail.


As welling a being the government's link to those surfing the breaking wave of technology in the private sector Mr Allan is also responsible for delivering on Tony Blair's promises to get government services online.

By 2008, the e-envoy predicted that citizens will be able to get all government services over the web, from passports to driving licences, from social security payments to marriage licences.

He said: "You'll be able to communicate with any government department, and get any government service provided over the internet."

But for those unable or unwilling to join the information age, Mr Allan had reassuring words.

"There will still be provision for people who want to go and see somebody.

"We are not going to be forcing this down the throat of people who are unwilling to use it."

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See also:
12 Jan 00 |  Business
Business gets bigger say in e-commerce
24 Sep 99 |  Sci/Tech
UK e-minister fights for Net trade
15 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
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