Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

UK Labour Report Calls for Universal Service Obligation on Internet Access

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 (1:21 pm) - Score 721

A Digital Government Review conducted for the British Labour party, which was commissioned by Chi Onwurah MP but claims to be independent, has called for a future Labour Government to consider implementing a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for Internet access (potentially applying to both fixed line and mobile operators).

The report appears to be a lot more grounded than some of the dizzy expectations found in a separate piece by Labour Activists during September 2014 (here), which among other things demanded a “national focus on connectivity” that would deliver 1Gbps broadband for all by 2020; including 10Gps connections for business hubs like Tech City (good luck getting it done in that timescale).

However broadband access wasn’t technically within the scope of today’s report, although they did touch on the perceived need for a legally binding Universal Service Obligation (USO) for Internet access (we note they don’t actually use the word “broadband” in their recommendation).

Recommendation 6 – Priority: high

During the review, multiple submissions and comments were made stating the need for changes to the broadband market, the need for rural broadband, the potential of white space technologies, the need for free Wi-Fi in all municipal areas, the need for telecommunications operators to offer cheaper deals to excluded citizens, the benefits of local authorities negotiating group deals for digital access for citizens in need, or the need for an updated Universal Service Obligation.

These are complex matters and could form a policy review in their own right. Without wishing to prejudice other policy groups working on this area, the Digital Government Review team would recommend that at a minimum the next government should ask Ofcom to produce a report on a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for Internet access within 90 days of taking office.

As ever with anything political, especially a report like this that is coming so close to the next 2015 General Election, it’s important to take a close look at what’s actually being said. The actual recommendation is not for a USO, but rather a report that would “consider how a USO could support both fixed and mobile services and whether a USO would usefully describe different obligations for differing sections of the market“.

The words “Internet access” are also used instead of “broadband“, which may or may not be significant but you always have to be careful with politics. Definition is important because Ofcom’s existing USO already requires BT and KC (KCOM) to provide customers with “functional internet access“, although the regulator defines this as a “narrowband connection” capable of at least 28.8 Kbit/s (slower than a lot of dialup links).

Admittedly once the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme is completed and 100% have access to “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) speeds by around 2020 (note: the current target is 95% by 2017 but 100% is the next aim to match with the EU’s Digital Agenda) then it would perhaps be a good idea to consider expanding the USO to broadband. But no doubt BT and others will argue that this would risk pushing prices up in order to cater for such a commitment, yet it might also be a price worth paying.

As it stands the reports recommendation isn’t yet a formal policy of the Labour Party, although with May 2015 fast approaching it shouldn’t be long before we get a chance to find out where all of the parties stand in terms of their broadband commitments.

In addition, the report also aims to reduce the number of people who are offline by around a quarter come 2016 and eliminate “internet illiteracy” by 2020. Funnily enough we’ve seen similar commitments made by both of the last two Governments, yet most movement online still occurs naturally. Ironically a USO might force prices up and make net access less attractive to the poorest in society.

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
Tags:
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Ultrafast ISPs
  • Gigaclear £17.00
    Speed: 200Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Community Fibre £20.00
    Speed: 150Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £22.00
    Speed: 158Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Virgin Media £24.00
    Speed: 108Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £25.00
    Speed: 100Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £17.99
    Speed 33Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Shell Energy £19.99
    Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • NOW £20.00
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Virgin Media £20.00
    Speed 54Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £22.00
    Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (4113)
  2. BT (3151)
  3. Politics (2117)
  4. Building Digital UK (2026)
  5. Openreach (1969)
  6. FTTC (1922)
  7. Business (1832)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1605)
  9. Statistics (1510)
  10. 4G (1378)
  11. FTTH (1371)
  12. Virgin Media (1277)
  13. Ofcom Regulation (1241)
  14. Wireless Internet (1233)
  15. Fibre Optic (1233)
  16. Vodafone (926)
  17. EE (905)
  18. 5G (898)
  19. TalkTalk (821)
  20. Sky Broadband (787)
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact