This week BT made an offer to make good the poor installation rates for broadband over the last few years with a pledge that they will provide the infrastructure needed in order to get at least 10 megabits per second broadband speeds to 99% of premises in the UK by 2020.
This is a part of the government-imposed universal service obligation or USO, which has been designed to allow those who live in remote areas to get better broadband speeds, by providing everyone, regardless of where they live, with the right to request a broadband connection by 2020. With BT’s plan, the USO would no longer be needed as they aim to reach the same goal in the same frame.
This is particularly important because Ofcom recently reported that 1.4 million households cannot get speeds above 10Mbps, which is way above what it should be and mostly down to BT since they currently manage the lines that most providers use to provide this broadband. That said, a group of MPs say that this number is actually much higher, released a report this week that states that a further 5.3 million people have chosen not to take up faster broadband services for some reason, which has lead them to ask the regulator to more clearly distinguish between the take-up and the actual availability of fast broadband.
The Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said the following about BT’s offer in particular:
“We warmly welcome BT’s offer and now will look at whether this or a regulatory approach works better for homes and businesses.”
“Whichever of the two approaches we go with in the end, the driving force behind our decision-making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers.”
BT claims that they will be able to reach 99% availability by using fibre and fixed wireless technology that will bring broadband to the UK by 2020 if it is accepted by the government.
It has been estimated that this will cost between £450m and £600m.
The biggest argument against this plan right now is that it doesn’t provide us with any more than what the USO ruling would have provided and it is possible that BT might move the costs of building this infrastructure out to the customer.
We will be sure to keep you updated as the government decided whether or not they will accept BT’s offer.