Wednesday, 02 August 2017 11:24

Mixed reception for BT broadband proposal

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Mixed reception for BT broadband proposal

A BT offer to provide universal high speed broadband to homes and businesses across the UK has been greeted with a mixed response.

The government said the offer to voluntarily provide the service across the country had been made by BT and would largely be delivered by Openreach.

It comes after the government committed to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) giving people the right to request a high speed connection of at least 10Mbps.

This is seen as the speed that will allow a typical family to be able to stream films, carry out video conferencing and browse the web at the same time.

The BT proposal would mean many premises will receive substantially more than 10Mbps.

Homes and businesses are also expected receive connections more quickly than could be delivered under a regulatory approach.

The government said it would now consider the offer alongside a consultation on the regulatory USO, which was launched last month.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley said: “The government is taking action to ensure that people everywhere in the UK can get a decent broadband connection as soon as possible.

She added: “We warmly welcome BT’s offer and now will look at whether this or a regulatory approach works better for homes and businesses.

“Whichever of the two approaches we go with in the end, the driving force behind our decision making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers.”

Unlike under a regulatory USO, BT proposes to build the infrastructure to connect the majority of households and businesses rather than wait for this to be done on request.

It is also proposed that BT would fund this investment and recover its costs through the charges for products providing access to its local access networks.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: “This would involve an estimated investment of £450m - £600m depending on the final technology solution.

If accepted, the BT proposal would be legally-binding.

But the proposal was criticised by the cross-party British Infrastructure Group, which brings together 57 MPs from across the political spectrum..

It said the proposal raised concerns for whether any agreement would affect current progress towards improving competitiveness by legally separating BT and Openreach.

BIG chairman Grant Shapps said it would be unacceptable for the government to backtrack on promises for a full statutory USO to make broadband providers accountable for the speeds they sell to customers.

“The proposals set out by BT 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.”

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