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November 9, 2015

UK Prime Minister pledges ‘fast’ broadband for all by 2020

News: techUK welcomes the government's pledge but warns that one size will not fit all.

By Alexander Sword

The UK Government has set out plans for a universal service obligation (USO) for access to fast broadband.

All UK citizens will have the legal right to request a 10 Mbps connection by the end of the current parliament.

Whether this referred to upload or download speeds was not specified.

While Ofcom’s Q1 2015 report in February found that average download speeds had reached 22.8 Mbps and average upload speeds were at 2.9 Mbp, this pledge is focused on rural areas where much lower speeds are the norm.

In fact, the Government already aims to provide what it defines as ‘superfast’ speeds of 24 Mbps to 95 percent of households across the UK by 2017.

However, while this roll-out can generally be justified on commercial grounds by primary provider BT, some areas of the country are simply not economical to reach, necessitating the USO.

"Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain," said David Cameron, Prime Minister.

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"That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for 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."

techUK welcomed the news, with executive director Raj Sivalingam saying: "techUK welcomes the Government’s recognition that broadband and the online benefits that it facilitates is an essential part of our daily social and economic lives.

"However, it’s important to remember that one size will not fit all in terms of the choice of services across the country. There are a number of geographic and population factors that affect this and a variety of technologies, from fibre copper and cable to wireless and satellites will be required to deliver this level of connectivity to all.

"The Government is right to set the ambition. Fortunately we are starting from a position of strength in the UK. Government, Ofcom and industry now need to work together on the detail. The chosen approach must strike the right balance for UK consumers, citizens and the businesses that will deliver it."

More details about the programme, including available funding, are expected on 9 November.

 

Read our list of the biggest UK cities ranked in terms of superfast coverage here.

 

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