Vaizey rules out minimum broadband obligation
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 17 Apr 2012 at 16:23
The Government has ruled out a universal service obligation (USO) for broadband in the UK, dealing a blow to rural web users.
The news came after Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron asked whether Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey planned any obligation for service providers to connect rural homes at officially recommended speeds.
The Government has called for 90% of the UK to have broadband access at 25Mbits/sec or higher, with the remaining 10% to receive 2Mbits/sec - but those are merely targets and not legal obligations, so may never move beyond the paper stage.
The current non-regulatory approach to delivering universal broadband is considered the most effective means of stimulating commercial investment
“The merits of introducing a broadband universal service obligation (USO) were considered in the context of the [European] Commission's public consultation on universal service principles and its third periodic review of the scope of universal service,” Vaizey said, adding that only three European countries – Finand, Spain and Portugal - had introduced an obligatory baseline.
“The UK's position is that the time is not right to introduce a broadband USO as it may constrain private investment in networks,” Vaizey said.
“The current non-regulatory approach to delivering universal broadband is considered the most effective means of stimulating commercial investment while minimising costs to the public purse.”
The statement echoes comments from BT, with a spokesperson for the company recently telling PC Pro that it did not see a USO as a viable option.
”There will always be some properties that are not economically viable a certain speeds,” the company said.
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