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Budget announces 2Mbps USO but who pays?
Wednesday 22 April 2009 16:09:32 by Sebastien Lahtinen

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling today announced the Budget including a commitment by government to a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) of 2 Mbps by 'no later than 2012'. This announcement was not unexpected given it was covered in the Digital Britain Review by Lord Carter.

However, the budget is very lacking in detail about who will pay for it, with a brief mention of government approval for a £100m Digital Region project in Yorkshire. It does suggest that money could be diverted from the 'emerging underspend' from the Digital Switchover Help Scheme and that additional costs might be met through other funding mechanisms. This raises concerns that broadband service providers might be expected to foot some of the bill, which in turn would be passed onto consumers, becoming a 'stealth tax' on broadband services.

Interestingly, the budget document states it will "allow virtually everyone to experience the benefits of broadband" raising questions about the need for a qualification to the concept of the definition of 'universal'. This might be simply an acknowledgement that everyone doesn't want to use broadband, but it leaves open the question of whether the USO will apply to the entire country by 2012, or whether this will merely be the date when the USO starts taking effect in a phased approach with telecommunications operators being given an additional couple of years to finish the rollout.

The Budget also signalled a review of the powers and duties of regulator Ofcom to ensure it can help balance competition and encouraging investment.

Comments

Posted by philipd over 7 years ago
"... becoming a 'stealth tax' on broadband services."

What's new here. The whole OFCOM auctioning of airwaves for mobile phones etc has been nothing more than a stealth tax, so no surprise they continue on the same vane with other digital services.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Quote"The Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling today announced the Budget including a commitment by government to a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) of 2 Mbps by 'no later than 2012'."

Should this not read ATLEAST 2Mbps? I certainly dont want my service to go backwards in speed terms!
Posted by Bryan-Tansley over 7 years ago
2Mbps, Yeah right, and the rest of the world forges ahead with 10,50, 100 even 250Mbps
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@carpetburn - The USO is a minimum standard, so you wouldn't have to worry :)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"@carpetburn - The USO is a minimum standard, so you wouldn't have to worry :)"
Thats what i thought, and why i said shouldnt it had stated ATLEAST 2Mb. Those of us lucky enough to have faster speeds may have paniced for a second there hehe ;)
Im interested how they are going to achieve this minimum of 2Mb, especially when in areas some people can still only get 512k and even worse in some places there still is no broadband at all for people.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
I wonder who they will say is responsible to hook up say some small offshore island, as an example where they have enough issues just getting electricity let alone broadband.
Posted by Btcc22 over 7 years ago
They should recoup some of the money by fining service providers that can't deliver at least 2mbits during peak times. ;)

Hello to most IPStream products (most of the country).
Posted by whatever2 over 7 years ago
"
I wonder who they will say is responsible to hook up say some small offshore island..."

Probably the same as other services are handled, with a maximum install cost, beyond which requires funding by the customer.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
the isps can pay by increasing their prices. They all seem scared to tho.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Seb - I suspect a cost cap on connections will remain. Some single lines are simply /too/ expensive to make broadband-ready, and if there are no alternative schemes in the area...

(I'd suspect we're talking about a few thousand connections in the entire country, mind you)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
Or for those where the fixed line option is considered too expensive, then mobile broadband or satellite may be the only options.

A lot of those without ADSL could get it if Openreach were to use thicker copper, no need for new technology in many cases.
Posted by KarlAustin over 7 years ago
Digital Region is a joke - They were all over the local news with, "World leading broadband, future blah blah blah" - You read the docs, it's FTTC with VDSL. So they are wasting £100m on duplicating what BT will be doing over the next couple of years. FFS, give us something truly inovative instead of more pointless duplication.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"A lot of those without ADSL could get it if Openreach were to use thicker copper, no need for new technology in many cases."
I guess for those with slower than 2Mb or no broadband at all they will be hoping openreach are forced into doing something like this, seems unlikely to me though.
Posted by dpd54321 over 7 years ago
I hope you are correct in assuming that 2mbs will be a 'minimum', because i am one of the lucky ones, i am getting 7.5mbs consistent, i only live round corner from where exchange is, carpetburn, you are right, if someone has a lower speed, why have they not increased it, or will they wave a magic wand, this government open their mouths every time and put their foot in it.
Posted by ethicalme over 7 years ago
I trust this government to deliver nothing! it'll be a second rate service for the have nots or the poorly served. Best offering would be piggy backing off freesat the Humax have an ethernet port "for future use" bye bye telephone exchanges bye bye UK government and bye bye substandard service in very rural locations. I would love a reliable "2 Way" service. Get ride of the land line and use mobiles would suit me. Could be happier to drive down massively bt market share...good riddance!
Posted by KarlAustin over 7 years ago
lol, satellite based broadband is no replacement for "cable" based broadband, or even wireless broadband, the latency is horrific, the bandwidth is limited andf the equipment expensive.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
That's why I support using WiMAX in remote areas, Karl. Of course, that'd involve getting the operating liscence to a more dynamic operation than the current..
Posted by 2doorsbob over 7 years ago
i fear isp's will refuse people a connection if the line doesnt meet there basic line test . i have to agree with dawn falcon wireless is getting there and maybe a wi max bridge to these small rural exchanges with the kit in the exchange to convert it to dsl so people will not have to worry fancy aerials and spoiling there nice stone built houses
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