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PM promises 10Mbps broadband to 'every home that wants it'

Saturday, November 7th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Everyone will have the right to a broadband connection of 10Mbps as part of government plans to get fast speeds to everyone in the country.

Prime Minister David Cameron will announce plans to introduce a new Universal Service Obligation (USO) which will give people the legal right to request a connection of 10Mbps, no matter where they live.

The move is part of the government’s aim to put access to broadband on a similar footing as basic services like water and electricity.

Mr Cameron, who is expected to give more details on the plans next week, said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain.

“That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain.

“Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.

“That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”

The government is already aiming to provide universal access to speeds of at least 2Mbps by the end of this year, but said that data from Ofcom suggests that a typical family and many small businesses need a minimum of 10Mbps to meet their demands.

The USO, which is currently set at dial-up speeds of 28.8Kbps, may be upgraded over time to meet evolving technology and demands. The government will consult on plans to introduce the USO in early 2016.

The announcement comes just weeks after digital minister Ed Vaizey told a Commons debate on broadband that the UK would not be tied to “some piddling European target of 5Mbps”.

'British broadband speeds'

"No, when we look at a universal service obligation we will look at a British universal service obligation to deliver the kind of British broadband speeds that British citizens and businesses require,” he said.

Mr Vaizey’s comments came as MPs urged the government to hold a ‘not-spot summit’ to find ways of improving the UK’s broadband and mobile infrastructure.

Former Daily Telegraph technology journalist Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, who proposed the debate, said without serious investment to help connect the ‘final 5%’ of the country, entire communities could be left isolated.

Announcing the 10Mbps USO, the government said it has already given access to superfast speeds of 24Mbps or faster to more than three million UK homes and businesses and is on track to reach 95% by the end of 2017.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “The UK’s digital landscape is being transformed – our rollout of superfast broadband is helping millions of people who would otherwise have missed out to get online.

“Coverage has already reached more than 83% of UK homes and businesses.

“By next month, 3.5m more UK homes and businesses will have access to superfast speeds – and the government's superfast programme is on track to extend that to 95% by the end of 2017."

As part of efforts to improve transparency for consumers, Ofcom is set to release more detailed, address-level mobile and broadband speed data next year so they can make informed decisions about things like moving house or starting a business, the government said.

The telecoms regulator is also due to release a new mobile app later this year, allowing consumers to check if their home wi-fi is working as it should be.

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