Folk will have a legal right to minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps by 2020, with the government having today rejected a voluntary proposal by dominant telco BT.
Currently, just over a million premises in Blighty, or 4 per cent of properties, cannot get speeds of 10Mbps, according to Ofcom.
After mulling its options, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport decided regulation was the best route to ensuring everyone in the UK could get decent broadband speeds.
That is opposed to the voluntary offer made by BT in the summer connect 98.5 per cent of premises to "at least 10Mbps" by 2020, at a cost of £600m – which it planned to recoup by hiking up bills.
The legal right to high speed broadband will be introduced in secondary legislation early next year. But how it will work in practice has yet to be decided. One option is an industry levy, with all providers paying into a funding pot.
"We did not feel the proposal was strong enough for us to take the regulatory USO off the table, and have therefore decided not to pursue BT’s proposal in favour of providing a legal right to broadband," said DCMS.
Concerns had been raised by some of the alternative network providers that the BT USO would increase the incumbent provider's dominance and risk smaller rivals' investment. The threat of legal action against the government if it went down that route had been raised.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "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."
The Register has asked BT for a comment. ®