A watershed moment in the CLA’s long-running campaign to end the digital discrimination against rural homes and businesses has been reached after a law enacting a legal obligation to deliver universal broadband of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) by the end of 2020 was laid in Parliament today (28 March).
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “This commitment to universal broadband has been government policy for some time but it is still satisfying to see the enacting legislation laid. It means that the principle is now enshrined in law that no home or business should be left behind in the modern economy.
“However, our campaign continues because although this commitment is right for now, technology advances at such a speed that it is essential for this law to evolve with the times. Whilst a minimum 10 Mbps download speed is adequate for now, that will change in the relatively near future.
“Fixed broadband connections are only one part of the connectivity challenge. We have a long way to go to establish universal access to mobile data coverage that is equally important for people living and working in our countryside.”
The Universal Service Order (USO), setting out the technical specification for the USO and relevant guidance, is being laid in Parliament today. This sets the scope of the USO which Ofcom will be responsible for implementing. Ofcom will be responsible for finalising key issues on how a consumer can exercise their new rights, what the maximum connection cost thresholds will be and the rules on demand aggregation.
Mr Breitmeyer continued: “There are still technical issues to be resolved between now and the end of 2020 but the fundamentals are clear. As our right to the delivery of a letter was enshrined in law many decades ago, our access to digital connectivity will follow suit.
“The CLA will work with Ofcom, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the wider industry to make sure the USO delivers the step change in consumer accountability that is promised.”