Broadband providers in the UK will soon be required to provide high-speed internet to all British homes and business. By 2020, it will be legally mandated that anyone in the country requesting high-speed broadband be given access to it.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said only a universal service obligation (USO) would offer certainty that broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps would reach the whole of the UK by 2020.
BT, the largest provider of fixed-line, mobile and broadband services in the UK, had originally promised to voluntarily work toward equity of internet speeds between cities and rural communities, but the government determined legislating the change would be more beneficial.
The culture secretary, Karen Bradley, said she was grateful to BT for its proposal but had decided that only a regulatory approach would ensure high-speed broadband for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they lived or worked.
Rural families were more likely to be left behind, with 17% of homes not receiving decent internet, compared with 2% in cities and towns.
But the right to speedy internet will mean access, not mandatory service:
“It’s about having the right to demand it. It’s an on-demand programme. If you don’t go on the internet and aren’t interested then you won’t phone up and demand this,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “The ‘access’ is being able to demand it.”