While many are working to the presumption that the 10 Mbps USO will fall onto the BT Group and mainly Openreach, until the obligation is enshrined in law it is just a talking point and a political football. The Prime Minister gave a speech as the CBI this morning that covered many topics but did cover the broadband USO and thus Sky has issued a statement in response.
"This is a welcome initiative and fits with Sky's belief that the UK needs to be more ambitious in its digital infrastructure. However, it is unthinkable that Government would hand an even bigger role to BT given problems with the current roll out, its history of poor service and the risk of declining competition. An independent Openreach, freed from the control of BT, would be able to work with the whole industry to deliver the investment and innovation that the UK needs."Mai Fyfield, Chief Strategy Officer, Sky
At this time we do not know how the USO will operate or be funded, there is potential for it to be a tool to perpetuate a local loop monopoly in perhaps one third of the UK, and that applies even if Openreach was an independent FTSE 100 company. If the USO is to be used to create more competition then a legal way to create another local loop operator or assist existing alternate options needs to arise. Our money is on the USO operating via a clearing house type system, since some areas will have clusters of under 10 Mbps premises which are best dealt with en-masse but in urban and peri-urban areas we may be talking about one property.
Perhaps the question is what does the public want and not what we and other die-hard broadband campaigners say they need, because it is all too easy to say everyone should have a symmetric Gigabit point to point FTTH solution available but a very different matter to fund the massive labour effort needed to construct it and over what time frame you want to reach the 100% coverage goal.