Thursday, 21 December 2017 21:40

Faster broadband to be legal right

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Faster broadband to be legal right

Everyone in the UK will have a legal right to broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020, the government has announced.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said the regulatory right was the best way of making sure everyone can get a decent broadband connection.

A speed of 10Mbps is the minimum that independent regulator Ofcom says is needed to meet the requirements of an average family.

    See also: Million homes lack decent broadband

Telecoms giant BT had proposed delivering universal faster broadband through a voluntary agreement. But the government said the proposal wasn't strong enough.

The government will now set out the design for a legal right to high speed broadband in secondary legislation early in 2018.

Culture secretary Karen Brady said BT's proposal wasn't strong enough for the government to take the regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO) off the table.

It would therefore introduce a legal right to broadband.

Only a regulatory USO offered sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability required to ensure high speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020.

Ms Brady 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.”

The government was determined to ensure Britain’s telecoms infrastructure was fit for the future and would continue to deliver the connectivity that consumers need in the digital age.

This regulatory approach also brought with it a number of other advantages for consumers – including those in rural areas.

These included the fact that the minimum speed of connection could be increased over time as consumers’ connectivity requirements evolved.

It also provided for greater enforcement to help ensure households were connected – including the provision of fixed line connections in the hardest to reach areas.

The agreement will make it a legal requirement for fast broadband to be provided to anyone who requests it – subject to a cost threshold – similar to the way customers can demand a landline telephone.

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