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Survey Finds Strong Support for a 10Mbps UK Broadband USO

Monday, February 22nd, 2016 (1:36 am) - Score 552

A new survey of 1,823 ISPreview.co.uk readers has discovered that 77% support the Government’s plan to introduce a new Universal Service Obligation, which could require BT and others to ensure that everybody can access a broadband speed of 10Mbps+ by 2020. But most want an even faster speed.

Ofcom’s existing legally binding USO only requires that the primary telecoms operator (BT for the UK and KC in Hull) should deliver, following the “reasonable request of any end-user“, a telephone service that includes the ability to offer “data rates that are sufficient to permit functional internet access” (i.e. dialup class Internet services at 28.8Kbps+).

By comparison the Government’s current non-binding Universal Service Commitment (USC) only pledges to ensure that everybody should have access to a minimum Internet download speed of 2Mbps (Megabits per second), although this can be delivered by any means including inferior Satellite technology (example).

At this stage we don’t yet know exactly what approach the Government will take for their proposed 10Mbps USO, although BT has already signalled that they could deliver it via fixed line broadband services and that seems to be the most likely outcome (here).

The good news is that the vast majority of our readers appear to support the new USO plan and most would still support it even if that meant a small increase in their broadband price. However most also believe that the Government should aim even higher than 10Mbps.

Do you support the Government’s proposed 10Mbps broadband Universal Service Obligation?
Yes – 77.1%
No – 16.3%
Unsure – 6.5%

Should the USO include Satellite connectivity?
No – 52.7%
Yes – 32.4%
Unsure – 14.7%

Would you still support the USO if it meant a small rise in broadband price (e.g. 50p a month)?
Yes – 50p is fine – 61.6%
No – 24%
Yes – If less than 50p – 9.3%
Unsure – 4.9%

Is 10Mbps fast enough?
No – 75.3%
Yes – 24.6%

It’s worth pointing out that imposing a legal requirement to deliver a decent level of broadband connectivity is no simple measure and would put additional pressure upon BT, and possibly other operators too, in order to ensure its delivery.

Mind you even a USO may not solve all of the problems because we’ve still seen plenty of cases where even under the current USO some properties, particularly new builds, have been left to wait months before a working phone line could be installed.

It’s also interesting to note that that only around a third of respondents would be happy if the Government used Satellite connectivity to deliver the USO. Satellite has already been used for the non-binding 2Mbps USC, but it can’t deliver a low latency service and struggles to match the affordable video / TV streaming friendly ‘unlimited’ usage allowances of fixed line methods.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks whether or not broadband speed would influence how you go about the business of buying a new house? Vote Here.

Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Avatar TheFacts

    A self selection, non-representative, broadband obsessed, sample…

    • Avatar wirelesspacman

      lol! 🙂

      Be interesting to find out what a non-“self selection, non-representative, broadband obsessed, sample…” said.

      Mind you, would prob need an extra question or two such as “what is a Mbps?” 🙂

    • All such surveys have some relevance and I wouldn’t say that people looking to swap ISP, as c.60-70% of our visitors tend to be, are necessarily “broadband obsessed” or entirely non-representative. But like anybody they will have an interest in how fast their Internet connection goes and other USO surveys appear to chime well with ours.

    • Avatar Sunil Sood

      Yes, I suspect in real life their would be a lot of resistance to the prospect of a 50p/month tax – just look at what happened when Labour proposed something very similar.

      In practice, ‘rural’ connections are generally already heavily cross-subsidised by other customers (and the taxpayer via BDUK)

      The key with any USO is providing the minimum people need not what they would like to have..

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “broadband obsessed”

      A fitting description of you?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Sunil Sood

      Subsidisation didn’t start with BDUK. Rural phone lines (like many other services) are already heavily cross-subsidised by those in urban areas. Rural lines simply cost a lot more to install in the first place and, simply because of the lengths of line, cost a lot more to maintain. That cross-subsidisation is achievable because (at least at the time of privatisation), there was monopoly provision and it was relatively easy to impose national pricing and a USO for voice. Since the inception of broadband, this is not true. There is now infrastructure competition for over 50% of UK premises, largely through VM, and this in the cheaper areas.

      The phone network was never built with broadband in mind. OR get no premium for providing a line that can carry broadband as the wholesale price for MPF (declining in real terms through regulation) is exactly the same whatever rate it can carry. Only the GEA-FTTC and GEA-FTTP services provide any more income to OR, and the price for those services is effectively limited by a national pricing policy and the competition in urban areas from VM. The regulatory environment will therefore place a limit on what is commercially viable and what can be imposed through a USO.

      Ofcom have (with EU blessing) followed through with a policy of enforcing the lowest prices on wholesale provision of network infrastructure which has been very good at placing a lid on retail pricing, but has acted as a huge disincentive to network investment, both within OR and also for alternative suppliers. It is extremely difficult to compete with a network infrastructure which is artificially subsidised in rural areas, whether directly (as with BDUK) or by regulation (as with the imposition of national pricing) by Ofcom.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @SteveJones: ” It is extremely difficult to compete with a network infrastructure which is artificially subsidised in rural areas, whether directly (as with BDUK) or by regulation (as with the imposition of national pricing) by Ofcom.”

      So what do you propose should be done to get widespread fibre broadband?

  2. Avatar Shane

    I agree to an extent, but not with the price packaging of 10mbps.

    If I could get Infinity it would be for for £10 a month.

    “faster broadband” as BT are packaging it (10-17mbps) is £22 per month

    Inferior product, higher price…How does that work

  3. Avatar Dave

    I get so annoyed when urban people say they subsidise the rural areas.
    I pay a TV licence for no terrestrial signal, no BBC 3, no BBC I player.
    I get no home mobile signal. But I still have to pay the same tariff. (3G and 4G are meaningless to me, so I don’t get any benefits from the all those licence frequency fees)
    Police, Street lighting, and libraries the list goes on.

    I have had to pay an increasing line rental for well over 12years so those urban areas can enjoy broadband while I still get a near dialup speed.
    I have also had to subsidise all the urban areas through the BDUK to get a Superfast broadband with the prospect of it getting even faster.

    And still the REAL rural areas are to get nothing except a woolly commitment of a USO of 10mbs in 4 years time.
    We all know what will happen in 2020 ‘Here is £350 now ‘piss off’ and get Satellite’

    Thank you!

    • Be annoyed all you want it’s a statement of fact that urban areas subsidise rural ones with regards to telecomms.

      The license fee incidentally pays for the content, which I presume you are accessing via DTH satellite. We watch perhaps an hour of TV a week. The fee is nothing more than a tax, same as all the others, just under another name.

      Yours, with love from an urban area that doesn’t have a mobile signal so I have to use a home signal box, a city-dweller who pays for a whole bunch of things through taxes that he doesn’t benefit from – same as everyone else.

  4. Avatar Reg Morris

    Its become apparent BT group in 2020 with the 10Mb Minimum for everybody is out of touch with reality.The new speeds will be 100-500Mb and may be even higher. What I would like to see is government investment going in the installation of broadband across UK and not to shareholders who have had a free ride. BT must allow all its competitors some of the action don’t be greedy then everybody will benefit long term.

    • Okay. Mind explaining to the >95% of the country that will have access to >24Mb in the next couple of years and especially those who’ve received zero taxpayer funded deployments why their taxes should go into this enterprise?

      Sorry to bring facts into it but the 10Mb figure isn’t BT’s invention either.

      I have broadband that the taxpayer hasn’t put a penny towards and is inferior to the services delivered to a pretty considerable number of people on the taxpayer’s tab.

      Regardless in this age of austerity there are far better things for my taxes to pay for than faster broadband, whether 10Mb is considered good enough by the population of ISP Review or not.

  5. Avatar Reg Morris

    No matter what speed is decided we need better internal security in which BT group
    personne haveallowed only one section of the industry to police the lines. I feel the public would have more faith if other telecomms representives were allowed in the crown buildings the telephone exchanges. Ofcom the regulator is to far away to make any decisions and the deadlock procedure favored by telecommunications industry is so outdated.I suggest an open forum type page furnished by Ofcom were the complainant can file the complaint. He will be given a ref.no which then is given to ISP and the complaint type. This gives open reach 7 days to fix fault If a repeat happens in the 7 day period this will be classed as a serious breach and 1 month’s compensation will be paid instantly. Only by increasing the penalties will anything be done for victims left in isolation. Being fair open and honest only will suffice

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