Prime Minister prepares to outline terms of universal service obligation prior to consultation
The government is preparing to demand that broadband providers make speeds of 10Mbps available for everyone under a universal service obligation (USO).
Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured) is expected to announce the terms on Monday, which will involve giving people a legal right to request an affordable connection to broadband wherever they live.
A consultation on the USO is also planned for the early part of next year.
Although the government is emphasising the importance to business of providing the fast broadband connections, it will also have a significant effect on government’s efforts to deliver more public services through digital channels. There is an understanding that people will only access services online if they are able to obtain robust and fast broadband.
In turn, this will affect the campaign to deal with the effects of austerity in the long term by digital transformation.
Cameron said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain.
“Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.”
The move will bring some relief to broadband evangelists after the government’s Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy, published in March, suggested only a speed no slower than 5Mbps would be required. Such a speed would be barely one fifth of the 24Mbps normally taken to qualify as a “superfast” connection.
But Ed Vaizey, minister in charge of broadband implementation, recently said in a parliamentary debate on the USO that 5Mbps would not be sufficient.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0