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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has announced that high speed broadband connectivity for the entire UK is near following the laying of legislation setting the design of the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).
The government believes that only a regulatory USO, which will provide a ‘digital safety net’, offers sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability that is required to ensure high speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020.
Ofcom now has up to two years to implement the scheme, meaning that everyone in the UK will have a legal right to an affordable connection of at least 10 Mbps, from a designated provider, by 2020.
The specification for the USO design includes: a download speed of at least 10Mbps, with quality requirements for upload speeds, responsiveness of connections, and data cap; a per premises cost threshold of £3,400, enabling coverage to around 99.8 per cent of premises; a requirement for demand aggregation, so that people within an area can combine their per premise cost thresholds, to ensure that as many people who want to get connected do get connected; for it to be funded by industry rather than public funding; and uniform pricing so that those connected under the USO do not have to pay more for similar services to consumers served commercially.
Digital minister Margot James said: ”In the 21st century, accessing the internet is a necessity not a luxury. We are building a Britain that is fit for the future, and we’re now putting high speed broadband on a similar footing as other essential services like water and phone lines.”
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