Public Services > Central Government

Government wants high speed broadband to become a legal right

Matteo Natalucci Published 20 December 2017

Government confirmed its commitment of giving everyone access to high speed broadband by 2020


The government has announced that universal high speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO), giving everyone in the UK access to speed broadband of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.

The government will set out the design for a legal right to high speed broadband in secondary legislation early next year.

This regulatory approach will place a legal requirement for high speed broadband to be provided to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold (in the same way the universal service right to a landline telephone works).

Ofcom’s implementation is expected to take two years from the moment the government lays secondary legislation.

In the summer, the government received a proposal from BT to deliver universal broadband through a voluntary agreement.

The government said, “We welcomed BT’s proposal and have considered this in detail alongside a regulatory approach. We did not feel the proposal was strong enough for us to take the regulatory USO off the table, and have therefore decided not to pursue BT’s proposal in favour of providing a legal right to broadband”.

The government believes that a regulatory USO would offer “sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability that is required to ensure high speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020”.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said, “We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection. We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work”.

Bradley said, “This is all part of our work on ensuring that Britain’s telecoms infrastructure is fit for the future and will continue to deliver the connectivity that consumers need in the digital age”.

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