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Poll Results: What the public wants from Universal Service Commitment
Tuesday 26 August 2014 17:21:48 by Andrew Ferguson

We first ran a poll to look at what people wanted from a broadband Universal Service Commitment some five years ago and the results from the 2014 poll are in.

The broadband speed people want in the USC
Five years of public opinion on USC broadband speeds

The 2014 results show some increase in the number picking 50 Mbps as their target speed for the USC, which suggests that for next year we should consider adding some more intermediate speed points to get a better feel whether its a gradual shift, or people are really wanting and needing 50 Mbps as a matter of course.

The poll results show what broadband campaigners have been saying for a long time, that the current 2 Mbps USC that is set to be delivered by 2015 or 2017 depending what day of the week it is, is out of date and unlikely to satisfy the public. The fact that people have voted for something in the 20 Mbps area is possibly because once you can stream two or three HD videos most households are happy with the speed of their broadband. A basic 2 Mbps service should run some limited video streaming and be sufficient to pay our tax bills and file any Government paperwork.

Willingness of people to pay for better USC broadband speeds
Poll Results on paying for USC broadband speeds
Whether people will change provider to chase better speeds
How willing people are to switch provider to get better guaranteed speed

The responses to the two supplementary questions show little variation from year to year too. The continuing pressure from TalkTalk to see the wholesale cost of Openreach GEA-FTTC reduced has some support with very few people it seems willing to pay the highest prices to double their speeds. The number willing to change provider to chase guaranteed speeds is encouraging and suggests there is scope for a provider to win market share by providing what people want speed wise if the price is right.

We do not believe there is any chance the Government is going to change the 2 Mbps USC, the public policy steam roller is trundling along with the main focus on the superfast broadband coverage targets and some experiments to see how much it will cost to get superfast to the final 5% and thus tick the EU Digital Agenda box of 30 Mbps for all by 2020.

If demand for broadband speeds continues to grow as some predict it might be interesting in 2020, since we should all have connections perfectly capable of sending off our tax forms and paying congestion charges and the local economies will have largely benefited from the predicted boosts to the economy faster broadband brings, thus spending more may bring little benefit in terms of economic growth. Will there be the stomach for public money to be spent on improving broadband further once again, or will we be left facing the whims of the commercial market, that in Europe has many cities with vastly higher speeds than the UK is planning to provide.

Comments

Posted by adslmax over 2 years ago
I don't mind to pay £5 extra a month for FTTP 330/30 from BTw.
Posted by prlzx over 2 years ago
I can't remember if the poll asked any questions to tell whether the respondant understood what a USC means.

On the topic of using government services the aim must be not just equality of access to information but how reliable it is for interaction.

If filling in forms may include multiple A4 scanned docs then a 376K upload on a 2M ADSL is going to be tedious. even that rather assumes single user and no background transfers in progess e.g. software updates.

4M/1M would be my idea of baseline connectivity.
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
When the 2 mpbs USC was first mooted in 2009 it was roughly half the average national download speed. I think this is a good yardstick as it does keep the digital divide in check.

The danger is otherwise is that otherwise the form filling, online job seeking etc does become impossible as the software updates and web technologies continue to be ever more bloated and bandwidth hungry
Posted by BrianWood over 2 years ago
We do not believe their is any chance the Government is going to change the 2 Mbps USC.

There, their, they're ==> there
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Fixed the 'their' issue.

Classic brain reads what you wanted to type, not what the fingers actually typed.
Posted by dsf58 over 2 years ago
"there is scope for a provider to win market share by providing what people want speed wise if the price is right"

Yes, IF we can trust the claims. I suspect there is a widespread belief that they are all as bad/unreliable as each other, therefore you might as well go for the cheapest.

Is broadband viewed a bit like other utilities. The electrons are the same, therefore go for the cheapest electricity supplier. Broadband comes over the same wire (in most people's view), therefore go for the cheapest.
Posted by dsf58 over 2 years ago
I also suspect that a lot of the clamour for "more speed" actually is due to the unreliability of the speed that consumers are told they are buying (or at least paying for).
Posted by Teefenn1 over 2 years ago
"Would you change provider to the service that met your desired guaranteed download speed?"
That question is ambiguous and seems to assume that every respondee is already unsatisfied. I would not know how to answer because in AAISP I already have such a provider but obviously I'd change under different circumstances so should my answer be yes or no?
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