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UK government confirms plans to introduce 10 Mbs USO

19 May 2016

The UK government has confirmed plans to introduce a 10Mbps universal service obligation (USO) and reform to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) to facilitate communications providers to roll out broadband and mobile phone infrastructure.

According to the provisions detailed in the Queen's speech, a new Digital Economy Bill would give every household the right to demand the new USO, but they might need to contribute financially to the cost of connection in the most remote areas.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DMCS) had already commissioned Ofcom to inform the design of the new USO and would report back by the end of the year, after which the government would start work on the secondary legislation which would regulate speed.

Superfast broadband coverage would reach 95 per cent by 2017 thanks to commercial and government-backed rollouts and other measures were expected to increase that further, but some of the UK's hardest to reach areas were seen as economically unviable.

Industry body techUK has warned, ''There may be a role for a USO as a safety net for a small number of premises that remain. But using the USO to address the whole of the last 5 per cent is likely to prove expensive, inefficient and slow if used in isolation.''

A new Digital Economy Bill would ensure that the new USO meant that all UK citizens would have a legal right to ask for a connection delivering at least 10Mbps at all times.

However, according to commentators, the specifics of the Bill were still not clear. There was no mention in the speech of what kind of technology would be  deployed to deliver 10Mbps.

According to Think Broadband, an independent broadband news and information site, which referred to a recently published government consultation document, the government was considering a range of technological options besides fixed-line connections, including satellite, wireless and mobile broadband.

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