The Government asked for responses on the proposed Universal Service Obligation earlier in 2016 and now the responses are available for all to read and show the wide range of thoughts on how a USO could operate and thus highlight the challenge in creating legislation that will actually be passed and be useful once it has actually become law, rather than becoming a white elephant that no-one ever makes use of.
"The government will look to bring forward primary legislation at the earliest opportunity. At this stage it is too early to say how soon residential consumers and businesses will be able to make a request to be connected under the USO. The process of developing the new broadband USO is a lengthy one, and there are a number of regulatory steps that need to be taken involving both Government and Ofcom. We are working to implement the USO as soon as we can and recognise how important an issue this is for areas of the country not served by commercial roll-outs or the Government’s Superfast Broadband Programme."Extract of Government response on USO
The summary of responses is worth a read, even if you just dip in and out and really highlights the variety in what people want from something that is universally available. The next step is over to Ofcom who have a consultation running until June 23rd and this will be used to help move forward both primary and secondary legislation. It looks likely that the primary legislation which is the hardest bit to change will be vague in some places, with details such as precise speeds and quality metrics governed by secondary legislation that can react faster to changing needs.
So while no closer to knowing exactly how the USO will work, we are a small step closer to it being reality and the Government has highlighted that the USO is not going to affect the ongoing superfast broadband projects - hence the news that with increasing clawback amounts we can look forward to 97% superfast coverage and if more funds or underspend arises from the projects we are hopeful of higher coverage levels.