Looking into the Broadband Universal Service Obligation
So everyone is celebrating a 5 Mbps Universal Service Obligation, and wondering how BT will deliver it, but we would urge people to think beyond the fixed line solutions, since in the more remote places solutions that require minimal infrastructure may be the only way to meet the obligation at a reasonable price.
The government is committed to ensuring that every single household in the UK has access to the basic broadband needed to live and work in the modern world. So we will look to raise the Universal Service Obligation (USO) – the legal entitlement to a basic service – from dial up speeds to 5Mbps broadband. This commitment to all goes further than any other country in Europe. Once in place, a USO would mean that consumers gain a legal right to request installation of 5Mbps capable services at an affordable price.The USO as defined by DCMS (our own emphasis on request)
The word request seems very important, i.e. the USO is not something that will fall into your lap and may not be as simple as ordering a broadband service from BT, in fact the USO may apply to a wide variety of providers and if the Government is to encourage further competition it should do, unless the plan is to saddle BT with expensive USO services that have 25 to 30 year payback periods, which can be the case for some telephone lines under that existing USO.
As things stand the USO is something the Government is saying it will look into and has not entered into a legal obligation to provide, plus with a General Election looming which politician can be sure they will be there to follow through on the promises?
Either slightly poor wording has been used or the £10m of spending on pilots for superfast broadband schemes to the last 5% of the UK appear less certain to be expanded now.
The government will review and publish further evidence gathered from the pilots later this year, and will consider the economic and social case for further government action in this area.Infrastructure report on superfast pilots for final 5%
The pilots themselves are not guaranteed to run for years or decades, funding only exists to run them for a year generally, and it seems as we have said before it is not about the technology but testing the economic benefits and social impact of better broadband in these areas. In short if no-one buys the services and businesses don't report benefits then further investment may not take place and areas be left to fall back on the new USO if it does emerge.
We will act now to help households and businesses in the hardest to reach areas. Starting with premises experiencing the lowest speed broadband, the government will launch a scheme with local bodies across the UK this year to subsidise the costs of installing superfast capable satellite services.Infrastructure report on satellite services
Satellite looks to be a key part of the broadband solution for the final 5%, well 1% as it seems the Government is aware of the capacity limits for the current satellite transponders pointing at the UK and does not want to enter into the costly provision of satellites themselves. While satellite connections are a great solution for some things, as the web evolves sites are becoming more complex and dynamic in-page data requests with high latency can break or make sites and services perform poorly, even if the satellite connection is delivering the speed it says on the tin.
The Universal Service Commitment is not dead it appears since they are saying everyone will have access to basic broadband by 2016 (i.e. nine months time) which is just enough time for a voucher scheme to give birth and tick the box. The Government will also be looking at the increasing coverage of 4G and improvements to FTTC from Openreach such as G.INP (reduce the speed lost due to interleaving error correction) and vectoring (boost to connection speeds by combating noise from other VDSL2 lines).
The question is we know now what has been promised to be looked at and if broadband is of prime importance what will the opposition parties offer to improve on these options for the those who have missed out on superfast roll-outs to date.
'We agree with the government that broadband is increasingly important to people. That is why we are working with them to extend superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the UK.
The last five per cent will be the most challenging and expensive to reach but technology is improving and it is important that people aren’t left behind.
We are keen to sit down with the government and Ofcom to discuss their proposals for a new broadband USO and how it can best be implemented and paid for.'BT statement on new USO