PM promises universal broadband header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The prime minister David Cameron has pledged that everyone in the UK will benefit from fast broadband by the year 2020. This will be achieved through a universal service requirement that will allow all customers to request minimum speeds of ten mbps.

This promise is in addition to the government’s existing commitment to connect 95 per cent of the UK to superfast broadband before the end of 2017, which is being realised through Broadband Development UK. When this was launched in 2012, the then-culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the UK would have “the fastest broadband of any European country” by 2015.

The latest Content Delivery Network (CDN) State of the Internet report found that the UK’s broadband is the 12th-fastest in Europe, and the 21st-fastest in the world.

The universal service requirement would place broadband on a par with other household utilities.

Launching his latest internet commitment, Mr Cameron said: "Access to the internet shouldn't be a luxury, it should be a right - absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century 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."

However, some have questioned whether ten mbps will be enough to cope with the demands of the internet in five years’ time, particularly given the increasing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. The BBC reports that speeds of between 15 and 100 mbps have been suggested as appropriate by various sources, reflecting a lack of consensus in this area.

Some have criticised the scheme, such as John Popham, who advises rural communities wanting to get connected. He told the BBC: "For me the issue is that urban connections are getting faster. Stuff is then developed to take advantage of those fast connections which is then inaccessible to rural users."