Brits 'want Universal Service Obligation for broadband speed' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The majority of people in the UK want Ofcom to impose a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for the provision of basic broadband, according to a new survey.

ISPreview.co.uk polled 1,445 of its readers and found that 71.5 per cent wanted to see an USO imposed, specficially one that came with guaranteed download speeds of at least 2 Mbps.

Currently, the government and BT are collaborating to roll out super-fast broadband, with a speed 24 Mbps, to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017, through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, leaving five per cent of the country without improved connectivity.

The government has also pledged to make sure that everyone in Britain has access to basic service of 2 Mbps by 2016 through a  Universal Service Commitment (USC), but this is not legally binding.

Ofcom, a telecoms regulator for the UK, does currently have a binding USO, but this does not outline a minimum speed, only mandating that BT deliver a telephone service that includes the ability to offer "data rates that are sufficient to permit functional internet access", only after the customer has made a "reasonable request".
 
Mark Jackson, founder of ISPreview.co.uk, said that in today's age, internet connectivity is often perceived to be a fourth utility, that is crucial to the way people communicate.

He added: "Never the less the current USO is limited and gives consumers no protection or assurance that their home will be able to support a proper broadband connection, which in today's world has become a necessity."

Recently, a number of MPs from the Labour Party and Scotland's SNP have waded in on the argument, explaining that they would review the current USO if they were in power and suggesting they would add a minimum speed as a requirement.

There is a strong possibility that this issue could be used as a platform for debate in the upcoming general election.