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Government declares 10 Mbps USO as a legal right by 2020
Saturday 07 November 2015 09:41:50 by Andrew Ferguson

We have known that a new USO was on the way since the start of 2015, but the target speed is now known and this means there will be a legal right to a 10 Mbps broadband connection in the UK by 2020.

"“Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it. That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe."

The Prime Minister David Cameron

The USO is designed as a safety net to provide the basic access to key services and live TV streaming, but there is a big question over what effect this may have on plans for superfast broadband in the final 5% of the UK. Many may now be worried the Government may be less stringent at pushing superfast to the final 5% and rely on the USO forever consigning the final 5% or a large proportion of it to second grade broadband forever.

Some more detail may emerge after David Cameron has talked about the USO on Monday, but it seems other than the speed, little is set in stone as there will be a consultation starting in early 2016 and this will be crucial, as with the superfast projects using a variety of network builders, now the full weight of the USO may not fall on Openreach and for the sake of competition we hope that the USO does consider how it can be used to encourage deeper commercial roll-outs to avoid the need for subsidy as the 21st century progresses.

Other aspects we believe that should be thrashed out is not just the download speed of any USO service, but a legal minimum speed for the upload and guidelines on areas like latency. 10 Mbps is easily achievable by satellite broadband, and while this might be the only sane option for a property 20 miles from anyone else, we hope that the USO encourages solutions that can be easily upgraded to offer superfast and ultrafast subsequent to that.

As for how many people will be impacted, we have been tracking coverage at 5 Mbps and 15 Mbps, so will rejig our calculations to target a new 10 Mbps. The current UK superfast coverage at 30 Mbps or better is UK wide 87.1%, England 88.3%, Wales 82.1%, Scotland 80.3% and Northern Ireland 75.7%. The 83% figure mentioned by the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale in the DCMS release we believe is an old figure from an Ofcom publication in August 2015, the figures change so quick that we only tweeted about Scotland hitting 80% earlier this week and another 0.3% has been added since with extra fibre cabinets going live.

Update 11:51am We have updated our availability and speed checker to now show two additional coverage metrics, the forthcoming 10 Mbps USO and those getting 15 Mbps or slower. The overall UK picture is that as of 7th November 2015 some 5.8% of UK premises are estimated to need help to achieve a 10 Mbps minimum speed, of course this will drop as the superfast roll-outs continue.


Posted by n959jb about 1 year ago
Thrilled (but won't be holding my breath) about the 10+ Mbps USO which will more than double my current speeds, but since when was gas "brought to all"...
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
I don't think gas is an appropriate comparison as, in the jargon of the economists, it is "highly substitutable", albeit at a cost of course.

A more appropriate comparison is with the phone service. From the 1970s onwards it became increasingly untenable to participate in modern life without the service. BB is rapidly approaching that point.
Posted by 961a about 1 year ago
It all depends on what he means by "an affordable connection" I fancy his idea of affordable may be different to mine!
Posted by gah789 about 1 year ago
Sadly, another example of over-excited and misleading statements intended to create a brief impact in the press. We do not have access to gas, water or sewer networks. The cost of connection would be > £250K for water alone. In reality this is either a commitment to satellite or it is heavily qualified on grounds of cost. How else do you deal with occupied properties at distances of 10-15 km from the nearest exchange/cabinet?
Posted by MarcusJClifford about 1 year ago
Headline speed is just one requirement. Equally or indeed more important are reliability, latency and upload speed. Reliability is critical, a fast connection that drops every few hours is not acceptable, likewise, satellite latency is unacceptable for several activities, VOIP / Telecommuting being one, and with Cloud services becoming so integral now upload performance is vital.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
It seems that Surrey SCC who had calculated the coveraged on Phase 1 to be 99.7% over 500K customers was a good move because there will be not many below 10 meg at (post code) and less often the OMR is implemented this will start to show when the 10 target is used on Thinkbroadband map data. I think Surrey tried to drop it from 15 to 10.
Posted by Fellwalker about 1 year ago
There is no point in 10Mbps UNLESS the sites delivering the data can deliver it at that speed too. My upload speed varies between 8 and 9 Mbps, but I would not want to run a web site from it, and certainly not a content delivery that involved any significantly sized file download.
Even with 39Mbps download speed, there are many days when sites are slow, downloads are slow. Only the really big sites have the bandwidth and speed. Try using eBay's bulk listing tool "TurboLister2" and it will show you speeds of 200kbps...
Posted by rorrocks about 1 year ago
I remember another bit of political hot air from a few years ago promising 2Mbps for all by 2012 yet my landline still can't manage 1Mbps.
Fact is that those in the final 5% will get fobbed off with satellite which has neither the capacity nor the affordable usage allowances to support live TV and the high latency makes it hopeless for internet-based software.
Posted by MCM999 about 1 year ago
"I remember another bit of political hot air from a few years ago promising 2Mbps for all by 2012 yet my landline still can't manage 1Mbps." The difference here is that the government is saying 10Mbps will be a legal right unlike the 2009 announcement which never became law. Let's hope the 10Mbps USO reaches the statute book this time.
Posted by 21again about 1 year ago
Is the USO for people to get access to a 10Mbps as I already get access to up to 8Mbps and throughput is 2.8Mbps or does it mean a minimum throughput of 10Mbps from their connection?
I'm sure the interpretation of the USO will change over time before 2020 arrives.
Posted by SaticICE about 1 year ago
Well - he needs more people online to snoop on. If we all have 10Mb/s+, easier to install government mandated spyware without the end user noticing the drop in their internet connection.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
So the government 5 years ahead of time has decided it will not follow the EU aim of superfast for all by 2020. on that basis this is another watering of targets spun as an improvement
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Gerarda.
The EU target is at the Post Code of 30 meg down not at the customer so it is up to the ISPs to provide this service not the governments. The 10 meg is only a guide line the same as the smart meters on all electricity supplies both are programmed for 2020. Water meters may be the same.
Posted by alwall about 1 year ago
"Some more detail may emerge after David Cameron has talked about the USO on Monday"

I doubt it. This is a man who is unable to reset a circuit breaker!
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The EU aim for 2020 will be missed almost everywhere in the EU.

That little matter of removing €8bn+ from the budget sealed its fate.

Me, I'm quite surprised they've gone for the speed touted by Ofcom, after talking 5Mbps earlier in the year.

As well as include upload, latency & reliability measures, I think the values need to either have some automatic escalator, or a regular review.

It will still include satellite...
Posted by ebm-chester about 1 year ago
I wonder whether he has considered the need to provide accomodation for all the flying pigs?
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago

With all the increasing demands and size of applications and many of them moving to the cloud I think 5mb will be pretty useless by 2020.
Posted by burble about 1 year ago
As some will be aware, I'm on FTTC and getting a paltry 4Mb, 10Mb would need something to change. I would guess that any hardwear changes by BT, i.e. FTTrn or similar will bump this up to well into superfast, but longrange VDSL may be something else.
But would diffferent modem be needed?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@burble The USO might not even fall totally on BT, so yes different hardware may be needed, but the pace of hardware change always means that consumer broadband kit only ever has a life span of 3 years or so anyway.

Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
@andrew - does your estimated speed take into account crap openreach wiring, multiple joints,aluminium etc or is it purely a distance estimate?
Posted by kijoma about 1 year ago
"and while this might be the only sane option for a property 20 miles from anyone else" - *cough* fixed wireless. If FWA wasn't so heavily covered up / poorly represented in the past then they wouldn't be shouting "satellite" now. People reap what the sow, then moan about it afterwards... ~sigh~
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
@gerarda it won't include messy home wiring either, like the 15M line running at 5M or the 40M line that wouldn't hold sync for more than 10s. Wires only makes responsibility a challenge.
Posted by burble about 1 year ago
Hah! just noticed the "gas for all", just goes to show how out of touch 'Dave' is with reality.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
@herdwick I know that , but a USO would have to taken into account all the things I mentioned.
Posted by andrum992 about 1 year ago
What they have actually announced is that they have no intention of introducing a USO. Usual Tories leaving it completely to market forces.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@gerarda You know the answer before asking, as its impossible to know what gauge copper and number of joints on lines without access to Openreach line records and lots of people to process it all.

We have modelled the range estimates from looking at peoples recorded speed tests in addition to the classical VDSL2 line length charts and even when looking good ensured severe cross talk is built in.

There is also with all the speed tests people are doing, so if faster speeds not available to millions when we say they are it should be visible.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
I ask this because in our village your map show a blue sticker, presumably some sort of average speed of 4.09Mbps yet the the actual speed tests for ADSL snd FFTC throughout are all shown as under 2Mbps
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Gerarda.
As Andrew does not know the line resistance in Ohms between the FTTC and the DP their results will be an average but I have a feeling the results could be more reliable after they changed the formula. The results at the 2 meg % I think will be high due to adjusting in x talk and faults. This I feel will effect all targets 2,10,15 ,24,30. Meg. But all have been calculated on the plus side.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
It should be added that for the limited areas where we have compared to Openreach estimates we have almost always been at the impacted range low end estimate. i.e. if I was more optimistic coverage could be much higher.

With over 90,000 cabinets though there will always be some where the figures are out, so if people can find an area that is very wrong on always happy to review and adjust if change is proven.
Posted by comnut about 1 year ago
Cameron also promised a LOT of other things, many that have been forgotten or u-turned... :(

"affordable" ?? there are "affordable" flats being built near me, they seem to think £500k is cheap... LOL.. >:(
Posted by foxprowl about 1 year ago
I would be happy with my existing 7.9 Mb per second if it was reliable. After 6 visits from BT Openreach in the last 45 days and statistics from Plus net telling me my connection dropped 183 times between 1 and 28 October I would settle for an uninterrupted broadband service.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I would think by adding 2-3 meg to Andrews Results (FTTC) you will be nearer to the max line capacity if you are on B impacted range thus giving a higher % on slower speeds.
Posted by pfvincent about 1 year ago
I note that the PM says: "Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury…we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it." without reference to cost - does he mean "wants" or "can afford"?
Will those who can't afford to buy food after George Osborne's cuts, still have fast broadband?
Posted by godsell4 about 1 year ago
When is Cameron speaking about this in more detail today?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Spoke at CBI conference, awaiting a copy of the speech, it covered lots of ground so not actually expecting more detail.
Posted by galacticz00 about 1 year ago
Gas would b nice is Cameron saying that is a USO? I don't live 20 miles away from anywhere but have 3 separate exchanges all within 1.5 miles. Still no hope of fast or superfast broadband for bussiness or pleasure. I know what I c an't receive and that is satellite because I am surrounded by trees.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
As most broadband users know - speed isn't everything.
The minimum 10Mbps is welcome but it also needs another commitment for latency.
OFCOM should insist that a maximum latency of 45ms is needed for all internet technologies.
Technology that cannot reliably deliver 45ms should not be used!
Posted by CecilWard about 1 year ago
Don't have mains water, had to pay for water borehole myself. Don't have gas !! Lots of people don't have mains electricity. Has Dave Cameron ever been to Britain?
Posted by CecilWard about 1 year ago
I simply don't want to hear about satellite being used as a cop-out, as an excuse for not having to do anything. Just get on with it and offer FTTP (not free, at modest install cost) to those who need it. I want reasonable latency, which is _never_, ever going to be possible with satellite.

Since there are relatively few of us, deploying real FTTP isn't going to cost the earth. More research into reducing the _costs_ of (true) fibre deployment.

So absolutely no to the satellite cop-out, and FTTP or FTTDP for those in most dire need.
Posted by CecilWard about 1 year ago
Please SuperDave, give those of us who are truly stuck the option to buy FTTP (or even FTTDP/FTTRN at a pinch) at an affordable install cost from BTW through _our choice_ of ISP. (No local monopolies here, no shady deals with a single CP as has happened here in the past with ScotNet in Skye, and with the appalling Connected Communities Crap in the Western Isles.)
Posted by CecilWard about 1 year ago
If SuperDave were even to upgrade the local exchange (Broadford, Skye) to 21CN then that would _halve_ my daytime per-MB charges, as my ISP, Andrews and Arnold, is charged double by BT for 20CN traffic. Nothing has happened since 2006, never mind FTTC or USOs, we haven't even been touched by the BT 21CN upgrade program yet. So what are the chances that another five years will drift on by, we remain forgotten, and then someone says "oh yeah, it's ok, we don't have to do anything, satellite gets us off the hook". Well, it doesn't.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
I would forget about a wired solution unless you are close to a cabinet on the Broadford exchange. To avoid having Satellite dumped on you the only alternative is Fixed Wireless.
I would press for an expansion of the current community based Fixed Wireless scheme to cover the whole island. The technology is available, it only needs the cash and it is affordable.
Posted by CecilWard about 1 year ago
Let's include a (native) IPv6 requirement in the USO, without which services don't qualify under the USO. Will finally help to force CPs to get on with it.

BTWholesale has nothing to worry about it as they already support IPv6. [Not to be confused with the BT retail ISP, who are - to their credit - implementing IPv6 right now, I believe.]
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@CecilWard which might actually be something the BT Group would prefer, i.e. adds an additional hurdle for agile smaller operators to step in and grab business/funding
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
@gerarda how does a USO take into account some plonker getting 5M out of a 15M capable line. The supplier has supplied but the user hasn't done his end of the bargain.
Posted by NICK_ADSL_UK about 1 year ago
Not a chance more like 2030 the prime minister likes to dream
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