Author Lauren Howells
Homes and businesses across the UK will have a legal right to broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps by 2020, the government has announced.
Government has confirmed that universal high-speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO)
The regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO) means that broadband providers will legally be required to provide high-speed broadband to anyone who requests it.
A consultation on the design of the regulatory USO took place in the summer. The government has now confirmed that universal high-speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory USO, despite a proposal from BT to deliver universal broadband through a voluntary agreement.
Government not pursuing BT’s proposal to deliver universal broadband through voluntary agreement
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said that although it welcomed BT’s proposal, it did not feel that the proposal was “strong enough” to take the regulatory USO “off the table” and that it had “therefore decided not to pursue BT’s proposal in favour of providing a legal right to broadband”.
The government said that it believed that only a regulatory USO would offer “sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability that is required to ensure high-speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020”.
“…only a regulatory approach will make high-speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK”
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection. We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high-speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work.
“This is all part of our work on ensuring that Britain’s telecoms infrastructure is fit for the future and will continue to deliver the connectivity that consumers need in the digital age.”
According to the Guardian, BT said that it respected the government’s decision and that it wanted to “get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK”.
Minimum speed of connection can be increased over time as consumers’ requirements evolve
The government says that the speed of 10 Mbps, which independent regulator Ofcom has said is needed to meet the requirements of an average family, can be increased over time, as consumers’ connectivity requirements evolve.
Ofcom has previously said it was “concerned” that around one million homes and offices still could not get a “decent” broadband connection
Earlier this month, Ofcom said that it was “concerned” that around 1.1 million homes and offices could not get the broadband speeds “needed to meet their typical needs”.
It called for “further action” to improve broadband (and mobile) coverage, particularly for those who live in rural areas, where 17% of premises are not “getting decent broadband services”.