A Universal Service Obligation, or USO for short, is the concept that a provider (or group of providers) should be able to provide a minimum level of service in the coverage area to every resident/business. Traditionally this has meant that BT was required to provide an analogue telephone service to every household in the UK. More recently, it has been the topic of discussion around the Digital Britain Report in 2009 and the need for a USO for broadband, guaranteeing everyone in the UK should be able to receive a minimum level of service.
The term 'Digital Britain' originates from the Digital Britain Report undertaken by Lord Carter in 2009. It looks at how Britain should go forward shaping its digital services and economy such as broadband over the coming years.
Fibre in broadband refers to the use of fibre-optic cable. This is the use of a glass or plastic tube which is used to send network signals and is often used in replacement of a copper cable. Fibre has the advantage of being easily upgradable by only changing the equipment connected at each end and it allows data to be sent at very high speeds.
Fibre-to-the-home, often called fibre to the premises (FTTP) is a new technology which is used for providing broadband services to homes and offices. It uses fibre-optic cable to deliver high speed broadband services which are often referred to as next-generation services.
Fibre to the cabinet (sometimes called fibre to the kerb (FTTK)) is a technology used to provide high speed broadband services. It involves deploying fibre optic cable to a street side cabinet where the connection will usually continue via a copper cable to your home or office. This technology is used by Virgin Media and BT to deliver their "fibre optic" broadband service. FTTC is often deemed a stop-gap technology between traditional broadband services and full fibre-to-the-home (FTTH).
Next generation access is a term used to define the new types of broadband services that are currently being developed and deployed. The idea is to provide much larger capacity to users so that they will effectively be able to use it for whatever they want without the service being limited. Current NGA doesn't quite reach this achievement and is made up of both Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).
VDSL is often used to refer to both VDSL and VDSL2 which are international standards to provide high-speed broadband to homes and offices. VDSL2 (ITU G.993.2) can provide speeds of 100Mbps both downstream and upstream over short distances. VDSL2 is being deployed by BT in road side cabinets as part of the fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) service.
Downstream refers to the direction of Internet traffic which is sent from the Internet to the user.
Upstream refers to the direction of Internet traffic which is sent from the user to the Internet.