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Ofcom Considers Universal UK Broadband

Posted: 01st Dec, 2006 By: MarkJ
Ofcom's new chief executive, Ed Richards, is considering a proposal that could mandate universal broadband. Essentially this would mean that every home must have access to a "high-speed" connection:

Revealing the move yesterday, Ed Richards, the communications regulator’s new chief executive, said that once 75 per cent of all UK homes had taken up broadband, it ought to be considered a necessity that had to be made available to all.

Speaking at a conference organised by Ofcom, Mr Richards said: “In such a world, a case for a broadband universal service obligation might be made,” but he added that there were “questions about the level of obligation and, crucially, how it would be funded”.

BT operates under a universal service obligation, which means that it must provide a phone line to anybody who asks for it, even if providing the connection would be uneconomic. The obligation is estimated to cost the company between £57 million and £74 million a year.

The Time's item is unlikely to have many people jumping for joy because 75% take-up (UK homes) isn't going to happen for awhile yet.

There's also the problem of how Ofcom may or may not choose to redefine the definition of "broadband", which outlines how fast your connection must go before it can be considered a member of the "high-speed" club. We recall it being as low as 128Kbps+ in the past!

Sooner or later some level of universal broadband obligation policy will be introduced; it’s just a question of when and how.
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