play_circle_filled In progress

Economy Economy

High speed broadband access for every home and business in Britain by 2020

Last updated: 10:09am 27 September 2019

…and our Universal Service Obligation will ensure that by 2020 every home and every business in Britain has access to high speed broadband.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.78

Our verdict

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a system to ensure that basic telecoms services are available to all at an affordable cost. Access to the internet is important for how we work, learn, engage with public services and spend our leisure time. Moreover, according to Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, broadband roll-out has significant benefits to the economy. The government promised to introduce a USO for high speed broadband, to ensure access for every British home and business by 2020.

In April 2017, the previous government passed the Digital Economy Act, setting the legal right for everyone to access broadband with a speed of at least 10 Mbps, and establishing automatic compensation when services fail to meet this standard.

Following the Digital Economy Act, in 2018 Ofcom held consultations on implementation of the USO.

According to a statement published in June 2019, Ofcom is designating BT and KCOM as the Universal Service Providers. Both that statement and a separate information page on the Ofcom website provide a final delivery date for the USO:

“customers will be able to request a broadband USO connection directly from the designated universal service providers – BT and KCOM – from March 2020”

The legal right to high speed broadband exists, and Ofcom is working on implementing the USO. This is ‘in progress’. It will be updated to ‘done’ if Ofcom successfully implements the USO by 2020, so that every home and business can access high speed broadband. Follow this policy to stay updated.

Want the detail?

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.