The UK government has, over the past few years, been working to provide a minimum level of internet access to all residents across the country. After repeated pleas for better coverage across the country, and In a bid to ensure their goal of providing "high speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020,” the government today announced a decision to classify a 10Mbps broadband connection as a legal right for its residents.
This will provide users the legal right to ask an ISP to provide a minimum 10 Mbps connection to their home, regardless of whether they live in an urban or rural area, which is a further mandate made as a part of the government's Universal Service Obligation (USO).
The government was previously considering an offer by BT in which the ISP would spend as much as £600 million in order to bring a minimum 10 Mbps internet connection to 1.4 million users in rural areas but it ultimately decided to go with imposing the USO as a legal regulation rather than the by-product of an agreement with BT. They explained the reasoning for the decision as follows:
"We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection. We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work."
The government also believes that this option allows for "sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability that is required to ensure high speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020." As consumer needs evolve, the government can also raise these minimum speed limits in order to maintain the effectiveness of the legislation over time.
The government is now expected to finalise the requirements made of ISPs as part of the USO, with legislation being passed in early 2018. Two more years will be needed before these rules can be put into effect.