Scotland: Get tae f**k on 10Mbps Broadband USO

Scottish punters don't want to subsidise crappy speeds in England

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Scotland is unhappy about Westminster's plans to introduce a 10Mbps universal service obligation, with the Scottish Rural Economy Secretary calling it "grossly unfair".

The country is currently pursuing far more ambitious plans to deploy 30Mbps broadband to nearly all homes in the country under a £600m programme that is due to be done and dusted by March 2022, and which will be paid for by the Scottish administration.

But the UK government last month published a proposal to introduce a legal right to speeds of 10Mbps by 2020 that will be industry funded – meaning consumers (including Scottish ones) will ultimately foot the bill.

Ofcom had previously estimated that the USO could cost up to £1.1bn, which the Internet Service Providers Association had warned could increase household bills by around £20 per year.

Currently there are 1.1 million premises that still cannot access speeds of 10Mpbs.

Fergus Ewing (SNP), Scotland's Rural Economy Secretary, slammed this insulting state of affairs in a letter to Matt Hancock, UK secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

"This USO will be funded by industry, who are in turn likely to pass on the costs to consumers across the UK. If excluded from the USO, people in Scotland would get nothing back despite contributing funding," he said.

He added: "This is grossly unfair as this funding could be used to deliver additional benefits for Scotland.

"This is indicative of the UK Government’s approach to broadband rollout thus far which has been to ignore the needs of Scotland, particularly our rural areas, and instead rely on an entirely industry-led model which would leave large parts of rural Scotland completely disconnected.”

A UK government spokeswoman told us: "The Universal Service Obligation will benefit citizens across the UK and help ensure people in remote places are connected.

"Everyone will have a legal right to an affordable, high speed connection no matter where they live or work.

DCMS has said the 10Mbps figure will be kept under review and the department expects it to be increased over time. ®


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