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Broadband universal service becomes a thing in the UK

BT Openreach Broadband Rural

UK telecoms operator Ofcom has officially launched something called the broadband ‘universal service obligation, that supposedly entitles everyone to decent broadband.

The minimum download speed required of a broadband connection under this scheme is 10 Mbps, which really shouldn’t be that much of a problem for Openreach, especially considering the obligation doesn’t kick-in until March of next year. Having said that there are apparently 600,000 homes and businesses that still don’t have broadband up to that standard.

Despite the fact that it’s the dominant broadband supplier in the UK, BT still seems to thing being chose by Ofcom to deliver this bare minimum is a big deal. “BT is very pleased to have been chosen by Ofcom to deliver the government’s promise to connect the UK,” said BT boss Philip Jansen. “It’s great news that the majority of homes and businesses in rural areas can choose a fixed wireless service from EE to solve the problem of slow broadband and get speeds way faster than 10Mbps.

“Through Openreach we are now extending our fibre broadband network to reach an additional 40,000 premises within the USO area for whom FWA is not the answer. We’ll continue to drive discussions with Ofcom, Government and industry to explore alternative options to connect up every property in the country and ensure no-one is left behind.”

“Connecting the UK with decent broadband is absolutely key to ensuring that Britain’s digital infrastructure is fit for the future,” said John Lamont MP, Chair of the All-Party Broadband and Communication Group. “Fixed Wireless Access is already transforming people’s lives, providing a fast and reliable service that means they can do everything from everyday online tasks like banking or shopping to streaming films or playing games. There’s still lots more to be done, but this is a positive step forward in the right direction.”

It’s interesting that even the MP is banging on about FWA, presumably having been asked to do so by BT. It makes sense that BT would favour this as a cheaper way of connecting remote locations, but it still reckons over 100,000 of those will be too costly to connect to qualify for this broadband USO without chipping in themselves. So, in summary, around half a million locations that don’t currently have at least 10 Mbps broadband will be able to demand it of BT next year.

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