British Infrastructure Group of MPs criticises BT proposals to deliver broadband Universal Service Obligation

BIG has criticised proposals by BT to deliver the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) promised in the Conservative manifesto. BT has proposed to the Government that Openreach could deliver broadband connections reaching above 10 megabits (Mbps) as required by the USO.

However, these proposals would see the Openreach agree to provide broadband speeds above the proposed minimum standard without the implementation of the USO regulation. The regulatory USO would be legislated to change as standards for broadband speeds in the UK improve- so that a minimum download speed would eventually increase from 10 Mbps to a higher speed.

The proposal made by BT today raises concerns for whether their agreement would affect current progress towards legally separating BT and Openreach, and whether it would affect important proposals to reduce the price of Openreach products.

Grant Shapps MP, Chair of BIG, said, “It would be unacceptable for the Government to backtrack on promises to deliver a full statutory USO to make broadband providers accountable for the speeds they sell to customers. The proposals set out by BT today would not go far enough to ensure that all broadband connections in the UK could receive speeds above a minimum threshold of 10 Mbps by 2020.”

“As the latest BIG report Broadbad 2.0 highlights, there are millions of broadband connections across the UK that may not receive speeds above the 10 Mbps threshold, even if high speed broadband is technically available in their area.”

“The only way to ensure that these businesses and homeowners receive fast broadband is to make broadband providers accountable to a comprehensive regulation that is designed to change with the times as standards for broadband in the UK improve- not to entrust BT and Openreach with this vital task when they are currently in the process of legally separating.”