CLA statement on the Universal Service Obligation to deliver high speed broadband across the UK

20 December 2017

The Government has confirmed today (20 December) that universal high speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO).

An offer from BT to deliver a universal service on its own terms was rejected by the Government. BT Openreach, the largest provider of fixed line broadband infrastructure, consistently opposed the USO to give every household or business premises the right to an internet connection of a legally set speed of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps).

The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses welcomed the regulation.

CLA Senior Rural Business Adviser Dr Charles Trotman said: “The challenges of rolling out fast, reliable and affordable rural broadband are well known but have been recognised by the Government with the commitment to provide a universal service obligation of at least 10 Mbps from 2020.

“For too long, rural areas have been at the back of the queue when it comes to investment in infrastructure and that is why this legal principle is not something to compromise on. Rural areas now stand a better chance of receiving a decent broadband service without BT monopolising the market and deciding its own terms for connection.

“It is vital for the Government to move as swiftly as possible towards meeting its objective of universal coverage in 2020 and to ensure legal guarantees are set for any future universal obligation. Ten Mbps is only a benchmark minimum speed which is sufficient now but as technology advances could be too slow in just five years’ time.”