The Government does not have any powers to impose penalties on network providers like Openreach, should they decide against connecting premises to superfast broadband for commercial reasons.
If, however, a provider like Openreach has been contracted to rollout superfast broadband under the Government’s Superfast Broadband programme, there will be a contract between that provider and the Local Authority responsible for running the programme in the local area. Normally, a decision not to connect a property, which was originally in scope for the programme, is one that would be taken jointly by the Local Authority in consultation with the provider. If, however, a provider arbitrarily decided not to connect a property, this would represent a breach of that contract and the Local Authority would be able to take action under that contract. In the most serious circumstances, this could result in termination.
The Government does not provide retrospective funding for communities that are self-funding superfast broadband in their local area. However, many communities are utilising the government’s £67 million Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to contribute towards the cost of their project.
In addition, the Government continues to take action to improve the connectivity of those without access to superfast broadband. Our Superfast Broadband programme is continuing to connect premises to superfast broadband, following the target of 95% coverage being hit by the end of 2017, and expects to hit 97% coverage by March 2020. In addition, the Government has introduced the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). This will give everyone in the UK the right to request decent broadband providing download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second from a designated provider up to a reasonable cost threshold of £3,400 per premise.
Government is also funding the rollout of next generation gigabit broadband in less commercial areas of the country, including through the £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme, as well as the Gigabit Voucher Scheme. On 30 September, the Government announced a further £5 billion of new funding to subsidise the rollout of gigabit capable broadband to premises in the least commercial 20% of the country, including those areas that currently do not have access to superfast broadband.