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Queen's Speech 2016 pushes USO closer to reality
Wednesday 18 May 2016 12:45:18 by Andrew Ferguson

After the raft of news around the Universal Service Obligation in the last few weeks there is a bit more, as the topic made it into the Queen's Speech 2016.

"To support the economic recovery, and to create jobs and more apprenticeships, legislation will be introduced to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow.

Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband.

Legislation will be introduced to improve Britain’s competitiveness and make the United Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy.

Extract from Her Majesty’s most gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament at the State Opening of Parliament 2016

The USO will be part of the Digital Economy Bill that we expect to know a lot more about in July 2016, but key points from the briefing notes that accompany the speech indicate:

  • Legal right to fast broadband and this USO will work in a way similar to the landline USO in that a cost threshold will exist above which a business or home owner may have to make a contribution. The Government is expecting to deliver the USO initially with a speed of 10 Mbps as a minimum and the Digital Economy Bill will give Ofcom the power to review this over time to make sure that the USO can keep pace ensuring a basic universal access.
  • The Electronics Communication Code changes aimed at helping to get more mobile and superfast broadband infrastructure deployed.
  • Simplification of planning rules around broadband infrastructure.
  • Give Ofcom the power to order broadband providers to release data on customer complaints and speeds.
  • Changes to switching processes to simplify them even further
  • A right to automatic compensation when broadband goes wrong

Not all of this is new but automatic compensation is likely to please those who regularly have problems with their broadband, though a lot will depend on how faults eligible for compensation are defined and there may be an overall cost implication.

Alas while a lot of the changes are things people want yesterday, it takes time to get legislation passed and in the case of the Universal Service Obligation if it is to apply to multiple operators this may extend the time taken for to it to be passed into law, since different providers will have widely differing views. So while a target date of 2020 for the USO seems incredibly slow better it is better to take time to get it right, so that the USO can be useful for a number of decades.


Posted by Blackmamba 11 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
I would think by 2020 there will not be many customers not being able to get 10 meg in Surrey as the post codes are reducing weekly on TBB results ,once the under 2 meg records have been eliminated which are giving a false reading.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 11 months ago
Why are the under 2 Meg records giving a false reading? False in what sense?
Posted by Blackmamba 10 months ago
Hi Andrews Staff.
As you are overlapping the tiles the 2 meg section are showing on post codes that are close to the exchanges and next to the FTTC or in the cable run of the Cab (FTTC).. I do unstained that there is a lot of work involved to check them out so just use the under 10 meg tile as this we all hope it is going to be the USO soon.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
Tiles? Remember even when a cabinet is live not everyone orders a faster service as soon as it available, so seeing 2 Mbps tests in a live cabinet area is not a surprise.

In terms of statistics the core is the postcode, and how maps present is a different matter (i.e. you've confused things previously).
Posted by t99del 10 months ago
four years ago 10Mb might have been considered High Speed Internet, in todays world it is anything but, and in four years time it will be considered a joke.
So who dreamed up 10Mb as being the USO in 4 years time.
BT's current entry level package is quoted as 'upto' 17Mb
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
That'd be an Ofcom recommendation.

They, in turn, judged it based on two factors IIRC. 1) That usage didn't get hugely higher if line speed rose above 10Mbps
2) That user experience tests suggested little improvement above 8-10Mbps.

Google "internet performance evaluation for ofcom".

You'll find one report (by "Actual Experience") from Oct 2014 that started things, and a followup in Nov 2015, that doesn't change the conclusion.

They are well worth reading, at least the summaries.
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
I reckon both the government and BT toyed with the idea of arguing for a smaller USO at 5Mbps.

Perhaps Ofcom's research put them in a strong position to argue for, and win, 10Mbps.
Posted by silverdove 10 months ago
10meg is not going to happen in rural areas unless it costs the consumer a lot of cash and is capped at a ridiculously low limit. It is never going to be a USO. FYI my average for the past month is 1.6meg....and yes I chose to live in the country after BT said I should get 17meg. Of course they based that figure on the postcode, which at one corner is close to the cabinet.
Posted by HangTime 10 months ago
Although 10mbit probably sounds a laughable target to a lot of people, to those of us who are under that threshold it would still be welcome. Although 2020 is a frustrating time window.

There also tends to be an assumption that everyone under 10mbit must be living on a desolate farm in the middle of nowhere that would be far too expensive to connect up, whereas I live on a modern housing estate surrounded on all sides by properties. The exchange supports FTTC, some cabinets in town support FTTC, some streets have Virgin cable - but ours do not.
Posted by fastman 10 months ago
hang time so you could look to co fund your cab with your community what cab / exchnage you on
Posted by HangTime 10 months ago
Unfortunately that isn't possible because it it is part of a 'wave' to be completed in future years, in such cases you are blocked from self-funding:
Posted by Teefenn1 10 months ago
Does the ignorant government believe they can change the laws of physics? If BT fibre or Virgin are not available you simply cannot sync above 10Mbps if your home is too far from the connecting exchange. No amount of legislation can change that fact. I'm fortunate in that my exchange is close enough to supply 15Mpbs on ADSL and I do have the option of Virgin's cable should I choose but there will always be premises, both urban and rural, with long lines and for which no form of fibre is available.
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
No, the ignorant government has no expectation of a change in the laws of physics.

So what changes? Simple - those "long lines" with "no fibre" need a different option - and the legislation is all about ensuring they get that option.

Perhaps that is a change from "no fibre" to "fibre". Perhaps it installs a cabinet or FTTRN node to turn "long line" into "short line". Perhaps fixed wireless. Perhaps 4G. Who knows - yet.

But the first step is to legislate enough so that the government have the right to demand the option.
Posted by HangTime 10 months ago
The fact you can't change the laws of physics is exactly why some feel that legislation is needed, to ensure that physical changes are made such that those not hitting the USO can get access to faster connections.
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