News & Insight

Access to broadband to become UK law

Jack Stratten

A universal service obligation for broadband access could be introduced next spring

Following legislation introduced to parliament, access to broadband could become a British law.

The Digital Economy Bill, recently presented to the government, could mean that a universal service obligation for broadband access is introduced next spring. That would see minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps become a legal requirement for everyone in Britain.

Getting the whole of Britain up to speed

10Mbps is still some distance from the government definition of superfast broadband, which is 24Mbps.

However, 2.4 million properties in the UK currently can’t access a 10Mbps broadband connection, so this bill represents a big step forward. It’s also been estimated that 1 million properties will still be without access to broadband speeds of 10Mbps in December 2017 – potentially well after this new law is introduced. The consequences of such a scenario are as yet unknown.

The bill will be reviewed regularly by Ofcom to ensure that it reflects up-to-date minimum speeds and standards. It will also cover other aspects of broadband access, including making it easier for end-users to switch suppliers, and various online protection measures.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey suggests that this bill will ‘provide the necessary framework to make sure we remain world leaders.’

It’s expected that the bill will pass this autumn, and then be formally introduced into law the following spring.