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UK CLA Calls for 2Mbps Broadband to be a Universal Service Obligation

Thursday, Mar 15th, 2012 (9:18 am) - Score 482

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), a lobby group for land owners across England and Wales, has told the UK governments House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, which recently launched an inquiry into the country’s superfast broadband strategy (here), that it must provide a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband of at least 2Mbps (Megabits per second) in rural areas.

At present the government only promises a Universal Service Commitment (USC) of at least 2Mbps (internet download speed in Megabits per second) for the last 10% of the UK’s population by 2015 (i.e. those that probably won’t benefit from superfast broadband until after 2015), which is the soft option next to a mandatory and legally required USO.

CLA President, Harry Cotterell, said:

The Government is moving more of its services online and has even recognised that broadband is essential to the economic well-being of rural areas. However, there is no legal requirement for the Government to deliver the basic two Mbps speed that many rural businesses currently struggle to receive.

The CLA’s submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications makes it clear that the rural-urban digital divide needs to be closed as soon as possible. Rural businesses have the potential to act as a dynamo for economic growth but they must be given the same tools as urban businesses to do the job.

It is essential the Government agrees to a legally binding Universal Service Obligation rather than just a commitment so we to have greater confidence adequate broadband will be available to all.”

Separately the CLA would also like the government to raise its minimum download speed target from 2Mbps to at least 5Mbps, although we’d be quite surprised if the government made such a change this late in the process and especially after the draft Local Broadband Plans (LBP) have already been agreed. On the other hand there might still be room to influence future policy for the as yet undecided 2015-2020 timeframe.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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