The opening up of the British electricity market to full competition has been delayed by five months, reveals Electricity Regulator Stephen Littlechild. April 1998 was the date set for the first markets to open to full competition under the phased move to complete liberalisation in the UK. September 1998 is now a more realistic date for initial market opening. The delay is down to problems with resolving industry design issues, with integration of different companies' information technology (IT) systems and the slower than expected rate of testing IT systems involved in national tests. The programme for giving domestic customers the chance to shop around for their electricity will now begin with four initial public electricity supply (PES) areas in September. A further four PES areas will open up in October, while the remaining areas of England and Wales will follow in December. In each of the 12 areas the controlled market start up will take up to six months. So by June 1999, all customers should have access to it.