UK says all homes will have legal right to 10 Mbps broadband by 2020

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By Larry Banks

In a surprise move the UK government says that a “universal service obligation” for broadband will mean UK residents will have a legal right to an affordable Internet connection. It’s been promised that by 2020 all residents will be able to request at least 10 Mbps and an Internet Service Provider (ISP) will be duty-bound to connect them wherever they live and work in the country.

Broadband will be a basic right in the UK

“Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right—absolutely fundamental to life in 21st Century Britain”, said Prime Minister David Cameron. “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”.

This “universal service obligation” would mean broadband would be on the same essentials list as water, electricity and gas, making it a basic right for all UK citizens. The government now plans to hold a consultation in 2016 on how this can be achieved.

However, the UK government does not have an exemplary track record in terms of broadband promises. Back in 2012, the culture secretary at the time Jeremy Hunt said the UK would have the fastest European Internet speeds by 2015. However, the “State of the Internet” report by Akamai currently ranks the UK as 21st in the world and quite far down the list for compared to its European neighbours, too.

Shadow minister for culture and the digital economy Chi Onwurah spoke to the BBC recently and said that the government must state exactly when consumers will see the benefits.

“Five years after abandoning Labour’s fully-funded commitment to universal broadband, the government’s ‘superfast’ broadband rollout is still being hit with delays and at the mercy of a single provider”, she said.

In terms of funding, it’s not yet known how the government will fund its latest scheme. British Telecom (BT) has already received more than £1 billion of the UK government’s spending for its superfast broadband rollout in the UK.

SOURCE: Ars Technica.

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