Broadband customers will be given the legal right to receive fast broadband under new rules announced by the government.
From 2020, every household in the UK will be given access to internet speeds of 10mbps (megabits per second) or faster, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced.
This universal service obligation (USO) will mean consumers have the legal right to demand faster broadband from their provider if speeds are slower than this level.
However, this will be subject to a cost threshold for the broadband provider – which is yet to be determined – in the same way the universal service right to a landline telephone works. For example, if you live in a rural area where it costs more than the threshold for a provider to improve broadband speeds, then you can’t demand access to speeds of at least 10mbps.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom says speeds of 10mbps are needed to meet the requirements of the average family.
BT had volunteered to improve the service provided to millions of rural homes, but this was rejected by the government in favour of regulation of the whole industry.
The government says that only a regulatory USO will create “sufficient certainty” for broadband customers.
Culture secretary Karen Bradley comments: “We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection.
“We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work.
“This is all part of our work on ensuring that Britain’s telecoms infrastructure is fit for the future and will continue to deliver the connectivity that consumers need in the digital age.”