10 Mbps Broadband USO launches - UPDATED
The broadband Universal Service Obligation that has been talked about for what seems forever is now a real thing and people can request their minimum 10 Mbps downstream connection (sync speed) with minimum 1 Mbps upload service from BT and KCOM if you are inside their exclusive network area.
The BT pages make something clear which we have been saying will be the case for sometime and that is if you are able to get a 4G service that meets the speed standards you will not see additional help.
It also needs re-iterating that while the broadband USO will help people get a better broadband connection, the price you pay may change.
We will be looking at the BT checker with some known outlier case addresses to see what it is actually doing, so we can do two things, help advise people with questions and if there are any quirks to feed these back to BT.
We have had some reports of problems with the BT USO checker and in the process of looking into those cases, which seem to centre around people having sync speeds under 10 Mbps but the checkers suggesting something in the range of 6 to 14 Mbps. Suggesting that BT is possibly using the best case estimate, for those where speed estimates straddle the USO figure we recommend BT adopts a maybe type response, i.e. to offer people a manual review before taking the address on as a USO case.
More seriously though we have found a major problem in the checker used.
If we check using a postcode where slow ADSL2+ which is clearly under 10 Mbps is the only BT fixed line network then BT is offering its 4G hub as a solution to people, but we have looked at some postcodes where we know Virgin Media cable broadband is available and the checker is not telling people that there is another provider option. The same is happening for addresses where we know Hyperoptic is available.
Our understanding of being designated the USO provider was that BT would look through the alternate options too, and while we do not expect them to link directly to another provider we feel Ofcom should mandate that at the very least BT highlights that other services beyond its own 4G Hub can deliver better than 10 Mbps.
We are not certain but the one or two postcodes where we think there was no alternate options but 4G coverage returned an identical message.
The BT checker also seems to be failing for some addresses, so if you get a broken response we suggest rather than hammering the checker again that you wait until next week.
If BT wants access to our database to help cross check the alternate operators and at least give the public some guidance then we are happy to discuss either live API level access or a monthly updated flat dataset for use under commercial terms.
Update 4:30pm For all those working from home its almost time to do a five second commute and just want to add a short update to say BT is aware of what people have been saying. Alas as is obvious since it is both a Friday and a very different Friday to a few weeks ago nothing is going to happen immediately, so therefore it is a case of sit back and wait until we can report on updates to the USO site and processes.
If people are confused about the response from the BT USO checker and want some guidance as always we are here to ask questions of and can take a look at the various data points available.