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Plans set out by the UK Government will help make sure that every home and business can have access to fast broadband by the end of the current Parliament in 2020.
Speaking on November 9th, Prime Minister David Cameron will talk about the Government’s intention to put access to broadband on a similar footing as other basic services such as water and electricity, helping to cement Britain’s position as the most digitised major economy in Europe.
Work is now starting on introducing a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) with the ambition to give people the legal right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10 Mbps, no matter where they live.
According to the Prime Minister, access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. “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. That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe,” he declared.
Fast broadband connectivity is now seen as a key service, essential not only for busy families but also for businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK. The latest data from Ofcom confirms 10 Mbps is the speed needed to meet the demands of today’s typical family and many small businesses.
A USO will provide a ‘safety net’ to make sure that households and businesses can get the broadband speeds needed to do business online, access key services or stream live TV. It can be upgraded over time as technology and demand evolve. The Government will be consulting on this in early 2016.
The Government is already taking steps to improve broadband experience for all consumers. It notes that its investment means more than three million homes and businesses across the UK already have access to superfast speeds (24 Mbps or better) for the first time. “We are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of 2017 – a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to bring more jobs, skills, growth and opportunities to the people of this country,” it says.
“The UK’s digital landscape is being transformed – our rollout of superfast broadband is helping millions of people who would otherwise have missed out to get online,” noted Culture Secretary John Whittingdale. “Coverage has already reached more than 83 per cent of UK homes and businesses. By next month, 3.5 million more UK homes and businesses will have access to superfast speeds – and the Government’s superfast programme is on track to extend that to 95 per cent by the end of 2017.
The Government also wants to make sure consumers have more transparency about the service they are getting. Later this year, comms regulator Ofcom will release a new mobile app so that consumers will be able to check if their home Wi-Fi is working as it should be. Ofcom is also planning to release even more detailed, address-level mobile and broadband speed data next year. This will help people make more informed decisions about things such as moving home or starting a business.