The Government has chosen to put into law a legal right for homes and businesses to demand high speed broadband by 2020. Under the new Universal Service Obligation, broadband providers will be legally required to provide broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold.
In making this decision the Government has rejected an offer from BT to speed up their planned improvements to 1.1 million rural homes. Prior to the announcement there was uncertainty as to how the Government planned to meet their 2020 target.
Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital Policy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said:
“Access means you can phone up somebody, ask for it and then someone has the legal duty to deliver on that promise. It is about having the right to demand it, so it will be an on-demand programme… if you don’t go on the internet, aren’t interested, then you won’t phone up and demand this.”
Rival internet providers welcomed the announcement. Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk’s Chief Executive, said the Government had made the “right” decision.
“By opting for formal regulation rather than weaker promises, ministers are guaranteeing consumers will get the minimum speeds they need at a price they can afford,” she said. “The whole industry now needs to work together to ensure customers see the benefits as quickly as possible.”