This Commons Library Briefing provides information about the Government's Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband.Jump to full report >>
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband is a UK-wide measure intended as a “safety net” to deliver broadband to those premises that do not have access to a decent and affordable connection. This means a connection that can deliver 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed (along with other defined quality parameters) and costs less than £45 per month.
The USO provides a legal right to request a decent broadband connection, up to a cost threshold of £3,400.
BT (and KCOM in Hull) have been designated as the Universal Service Providers responsible for fulfilling requests from eligible consumers.
Residents and businesses are eligible for the USO if:
As of January 2019, approximately 620,000 premises across the UK, mostly in rural areas, did not have access to a decent broadband connection.
Consumers and businesses will be able to request connections from 20 March 2020.
Once a request is made, there are standards placed on BT and KCOM for how quickly they must assess and deliver on requests for connections.
Any technology capable of delivering the minimum technical USO standards could be considered to deliver connections, including 4G mobile broadband. In practice, most connections under the USO are likely to use Fibre-to-the-Cabinet or full-fibre technology.
Depending on the technology used to deliver the connection some consumers may receive a higher quality connection than the minimum standards.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-8146
Author: Georgina Hutton