Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) – Broadway Has The Answer!

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We note that DCMS (the Department responsible for telecoms policy) has today, 30th July, published a Consultation Document around the proposed USO initiative. This sets out the Government’s initial position, informed by last year’s consultation exercise and subsequent technical assessment carried out by Ofcom, that there should be a 10Mbps threshold, that excess costs should be covered by a USO Fund, the cost of which should be shared across the industry, and that BT and KCOM are best qualified to be the designated providers under the scheme.

While there is a ten week period allowed for consultation responses to this starting position – and Broadway will be responding in full – BT has seen fit to pre-empt the process by making its own ‘offer’ – to deliver 10Mbps service to 99% of the country’s population by 2020. There is no mention in the public announcement as to what level of public support BT would be seeking, but we can assume it will be substantial in relation to its own ‘promise’ to commit £600m of its own resources to the task.

BT’s intention is clear – to avoid the regulatory remedy that would be a USO regime, open to competition, but instead to seek to impose its own proposals on Government Ministers, thereby reinforcing its own overwhelming monopoly in rural areas.

But Government should not be swayed from the stated purpose of its own consultation document, which is to seek responses from industry. Well, here is our response:

1. The target should be set at 30Mbps. Anything less demonstrates a poverty of ambition and a betrayal of left-behind communities.
2. Broadway formally proposes that it be considered a Designated Provider of USO services.
3. Broadway will use the latest technology – fibre and radio – to deliver a minimum of 30Mps service to 100% of premises, by 2020. Furthermore, it will do it at significantly lower cost than the 10Mbps solution proposed by BT.

As suggested, Broadway will be delivering its own response to the consultation document in the course of the next few weeks. For those interested to read more around this amazing topic, check the link below, and let your MP know how you feel about extending even further BT’s monopoly in rural areas.

Find out more here.

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