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EU Propose Legally Binding Broadband Universal Service Obligation

Saturday, July 30th, 2016 (8:12 am) - Score 1,090
europe digital agenda

The United Kingdom is already building a legally binding Universal Service Obligation (USO) for 10Mbps broadband speeds and a new leak of future EU telecoms proposals appears to confirm that the European Commission are planning to do something similar.

A couple of weeks ago we reported on another leak of future EU telecoms policy, which appeared to all but confirm that a new target would be set to ensure that “all European households” can get a minimum Internet download speed of 100Mbps (Megabits per second) by 2025, with businesses and the public sector also being told to expect 1Gbps speeds (here).

The above is a commitment rather than a legally-binding USO and now EurActiv has leaked yet more documents, which reveal that the EU also intend to make “basic broadband” (the previous EU Digital Agenda defined this as anything from 0.5Mbps to 4Mbps) a legally guaranteed service for all.

However the proposals, which have yet to be fleshed out, do not currently dictate a minimum speed and would allow wireless and Satellite technologies as part of the USO fix.

eu_broadband_uso_proposal

At this point the UK is still part of the EU and will remain so until around 2019/20, which means that the UK Government must continue to take any proposals by the EU seriously. Similarly it’s important to keep an eye on the EU in case domestic UK policy falls behind. Currently it’s still too early to tell if the EU will end up doing something that goes beyond what the UK has already proposed, although early signs suggest that they may take a softer approach.

The new proposals should be tabled by the executive in September 2016 and will form part of the previously reported 100Mbps pledge, which could all be agreed by the end of 2017 and then implemented from 2019.

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Mark Jackson
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.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar tonyp

    Once the Lisbon treaty article 50 is posted, whenever that might be, I suspect the UK will apply for (and possibly be granted) derogation from EU requirements before 2019 if the rules do not suit the UK regulators/legislators.

  2. Avatar Steve Jones

    You do have to wonder why the European Commission feel it appropriate to define USOs for what could surely be better left to local democratic governments to decide based on local needs and requirements. By all means set the EU frameworks on what can be done within competition law and state aid rules to allow for local definitions of a USO, but this just looks like scope-creep. Leave it up to local democratic institutions, not by dictat from the centre.

  3. Avatar cyclope

    This is one of the many reasons why 17.4 million people voted to leave the dictatorship that is the EU , Problem is that we have a Pro Eu PM that thinks sharia law is a good thing for britain

    • Avatar Ignition

      Far from a dictatorship, for many the closest they got to a representative vote, see the 2015 general election and how unrepresentative it was, but hey.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Ignition

      There are no direct elections to the European Commission. Commissioners are appointed by opaque political deals between countries. The EU parliament does, of course, have direct elections, but this is an EU commission initiative and reflects their tendency to centralisation of decision making in an area which could easily be left to local democratic decision making as long as it conforms to competition and state aid rules.

    • Avatar Ignition

      The Commission may present it as an initiative but zero legal force without Council and Parliament.

  4. Avatar Sunil Sood

    Much of the EU telcoms regulation is based on Ofcom/the UK – it will be interesting to see what the EU does after Brexit..

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