The Government has today confirmed that universal high speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO), giving everyone in the UK access to speeds of at least 10Mbps by the end of 2020.
Following the creation of new enabling powers in the Digital Economy Act 2017, we launched our consultation on the design of the regulatory USO on 30th July 2017. The USO will give households and small businesses a legal right to request a broadband connection from a designated provider who will be obliged to provide a connection, regardless of location, up to a reasonable cost threshold. Having carefully considered the responses, we will set out the design for a legal right to high speed broadband in secondary legislation early next year, alongside our detailed consultation response.
In the summer, we also received a proposal from BT Group plc to deliver universal broadband through a voluntary agreement. We welcomed the proposal and have considered this in detail alongside a regulatory approach. However, we have decided not to pursue BT’s proposal. We believe that only a regulatory USO offers sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability that is required to guarantee delivery of our manifesto commitment to ensure decent broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020.
Working with Ofcom, we will now move ahead to take the necessary steps to implement the regulatory USO as swiftly as possible. Once we have laid the secondary legislation setting the specification for the USO, Ofcom will then carry out the necessary steps to put the USO in place to bring about faster broadband across the UK.