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Survey Claims Two Thirds of Brits Unaware of Right to Request Broadband USO

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 (9:51 am) - Score 19,440
10mbps uso minimum broadband speed uk

A new survey of 2,019 UK residents with broadband connections, which was conducted by National Broadband, has claimed that almost two thirds (63%) of broadband users in the UK do not know they are entitled to demand access to download speeds of 10Mbps+ (Universal Service Obligation). But this conclusion might not be correct.

The survey further adds that 60% of respondents said they don’t think the public should have to pay anything at all towards broadband infrastructure installation, while on the flip side, 51% thought that the Government needed to do more when it comes to improving broadband speeds across the country. But the reason for public intervention in some areas (e.g. remote rural) is usually because commercial deployment models have failed. We should add that the USO itself is an industry funded scheme (mostly via BT).

NOTE: National Broadband is one of those providers that sells mobile broadband products over existing 4G and 5G networks. You could also make such a solution yourself by purchasing a data SIM, mobile router and mounting an external antenna.

The survey also links to a campaign page on National Broadband’s website, which states : “Did you know that every home and business within the UK has the legal right to request access to a decent broadband service …running at a minimum of 10Mbps? Probably not. And that’s why we’re raising awareness of the Universal Service Obligation for broadband.”

However, the survey and aforementioned website claim are not entirely correct, which is because they’ve overlooked a key aspect of eligibility. The key issue is that Ofcom’s USO is only available to those who can NOT already access a 10Mbps broadband connection and are not planned to benefit, within the next 12 months, from a planned upgrade.

In practice, this usually means that only those in the final 2% or less of UK premises can successfully request the 10Mbps USO, and most of them will be offered a 4G based fix (only a very small portion will be able to get a fixed line solution, such as FTTP). This also calls into question the survey result, since there’s no solid indication in the press release that the provider filtered the 63% result to only focus on those respondents who might actually be eligible.

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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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22 Responses
  1. Optimist says:

    “Did you know that every home and business within the UK has the legal right to request access to a decent broadband service..”

    Well of course anyone can REQUEST a decent service – but can they INSIST on it?

    1. anon says:

      What I don’t get is if their business is worth that much to them and broadband is a necessity to keep it running then why not request a leased line?

    2. Karl Cronin says:

      How??? We got told by Openreach broadband team, they wouldn’t support our 1.4mbps broadband as the phone line would not support two things.
      Even though we had FTTP CABLES FITTING BACK IN 2018.
      As for the infrastructure is past it’s usefulness.

      As for using mobile data SIM is maxed out with it being in a black spot.

  2. anonymous says:

    well said 🙂

    And when you can get USO, an oversubscribed 4G service usually given.

  3. Alex says:

    Breaking: 98% of the UK can order at least a 10Mbps+ service, so they don’t need to be aware of the USO.

    1. William Grimsley says:

      @Damien, unless you’re in Scotland

  4. Meadmodj says:

    Asking an obscure question of an already uninformed user population is bound to result in this.

    It’s clear the Government and Ofcom don’t actually want this process to work. Recent Government announcements appear to have similarities. The Giga objective will happen by Industry anyway and no BDUK final 20% contracts have been awarded yet.

    We already know from OR data and other sources where the minimum USO threshold is not being met down to premise level. The latest BDUK was supposed to be outside/in but its still likely to be inside/out in a geographical location. Many currently under 10Mbps will not be covered by FTTP broadband programmes (BDUK and Commercial) and continue to be in this state for 5/6 years with the digital divide increased rather than reduced. Slow fixed broadband often accompanied with weak or nil 4G mobile coverage (effective).

    1. William Marshall says:

      1.5 MB for me, BT (EE) not interested in giving me 10MB minimum !, went on to a fixed wireless at an ridicules high monthly fee and get drop outs, slow speeds etc, etc….. I would like to know where all this Government money has gone?, not to me in a rural area LN8 3PS

  5. Malcolm says:

    When they launched the USO in March 2020 the checker said we could get over 10mb which was wrong – BT confirmed we couldn’t get over 10mb and estimated more like 5mb but then said there were plans to get us fibre within the next year so we weren’t eligible – fast forward to now out of a development of 200 properties all the houses can get fibre but the majority of the flats cant (about 50 flats) – the USO checker now just offers us 4G broadband – checked with Openreach several times but keep getting fobbed off with them wanting to do more surveys and sorting out the wayleave agreement (which involves Southwark Council). So we are aware of it we are just prevented from actually using it to get us Fibre

    1. William says:

      I brought this issue up with an MP as I can only get 2mb in my flat, after some investigations by MP I got told flats are exempt from the USO and so are HMO property, this is because there was a loophole carved out that said due to issues of access at many properties to building and permission from freeholders that they did not need to meet obligation, also now openreach also just say 4g is an option so can get USO by non cable option.

  6. PaddyB says:

    Until ofcom actually regulates and provides an escalation process for disputes rather than it being supplier led nothing will happen. Also 10mb uso is shocking poor and you can tell the suppliers themselves have set this. I’m well versed in all this stuff and work in networking but even I can’t navigate the bureaucratic red tape to figure out how any average user could claim this without giving up. Exactly the same as the inflation and price change “consultation” that most of the suppliers disagreed with. For shame ofcom for shame

  7. Peter S says:

    The criteria for the USO seems very outdated in the era of streaming services.

    I’m not sure I would consider “decent” 4g broadband to be :-

    Download Speeds of 10 mbps
    Upload speeds of 1 mbps
    Data allowance of 100GB
    Cost £45 per month

    1. Dylan says:

      Amen. Grossly outdated.

  8. Chris says:

    2.54mbs is the fastest we’ve ever had, together with a 1.8mbs download.
    In 2015 when we moved into mid Wales, the gov had plans for superfast to property within 18 months!! This was proudly set out on an expensive gov website, showing timetables and maps. Then suddenly, gone.
    No we seem to be bombarded by independent suppliers haggling to offer so called gov grants, with a (you must pay your bit) caveat.
    We’re paying the same as townies picking up 17mbs and complaining that is slow.
    G3, G4, G5 it’s a laugh.

  9. Michael Hall says:

    I have very recent experience of the USO scheme. BT appear to be the provider of choice for the government scheme and AFTER allowing for the £3,400 government contribution, BT required a payment from me of “£100,000+” for FTTP which was the only solution offered.

    We cannot even get 4G in our part of Devon so there is no solution to our appalling internet connection.

    I have yet to find an ISP with plans to bring an effective solution in the foreseeable future, so frankly, the government ‘promises’ are meaningless!

    1. Martin says:

      In November 2020 we were quoted £40k for an install to our area, which would have been covered easily given the number of applicants that were signed up. From there things progressed quickly, companies bid to build the network and everything seemed great until it all suddenly went silent and we didn’t hear anything. Companies stopped responding to emails and we assumed the project was scrapped. This year we applied again and were told it would be £100k at a minimum, so we have no option but stick with a flakey 2mbps connection. No mobile coverage in this area so 4g isn’t an option. Until the government decide to pick a date and stick to it there will be no solution for rural customers except pay the extortionate rates openreach seem to pull out of the air for installs.

    2. John Marsh says:

      I’m in rural Norfolk and had a similar experience with the USO. I now have Starlink and it works perfectly.

  10. William says:

    What I would like to see is if they can only offer you say 2mb like I get then they should only be able to charge you 20% of the normal bill, 20% charge for 20% of speed of USO, fibre should be made law into flats as it is in houses now, zero loopholes, I feel it’s actually discrimination against the poor, poorer people tend to live in flats and we have literally been moved out of the lawful minimums.

    1. Ben says:

      If this happened I think ISPs who don’t have a USO would refuse to serve you. You might also find that BT would push you to their 4G solution at £45 per month. Beware of unintended consequences.

  11. John Marsh says:

    I’m eligible for the USO! Hurrah!

    Me: can you blow a fibre down the 4″ pipe 300m to my house?

    BT: sure, that would be £11k

    Me: but what about the USO.

    BT: that pays for £3k

    Me: hello Starlink

  12. Starlink? says:

    This is where Starlink steps in as the best option. Those lacking a reasonable fixed line or mobile broadband (or a microwave link from the next village!) can really only turn to satellite broadband. Starlink’s network has been a game changer with lower latency.

    Sure, it’s not particularly cheap to set up (£579 for month 1 then £90 per month) but the words “share” or “sharing” don’t appear to be in the T&Cs. Could you split the cost with a couple of neighbours (using Ubiquiti kit?). You would of course be at risk of being responsible if they used it for illegal purposes, so you’d want to get on well with them!

  13. Christopher Jones says:

    i am currently a virgin broadband customer. i applied for their Social Tarriff Account after reading information here on ISPReview. guess what? that was at least over a month ago. Virgin has never replied to me filling in their online application form.

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