High-speed broadband connectivity will be a legal right in the UK by 2020, the government announced on Wednesday.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that over the summer, it received a proposal from telecommunications company BT to deliver universal broadband through a voluntary agreement. The government said it welcomed the proposal and considered it in detail but felt it wasn't strong enough to take the regulatory approach off the table.
Ultimately, the UK decided not to pursue the proposal in favor of providing a legal right to broadband through a Universal Service Obligation (USO). The government believes this is the best way to offer sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability required to ensure broadband access for the entire country by 2020.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said it is all part of their work to ensure that Britain's telecoms infrastructure is fit for the future and will continue to deliver the connectivity consumers need in the digital age.
Independent regulator Ofcom determined that speeds of at least 10 Mbps are needed to meet the requirements of an average family. For comparison, the FCC in early 2015 redefined broadband in the US to a minimum of 25 Mbps down and three Mbps up although even those speeds are considered somewhat slow by today's standards.
It's worth noting that the government isn't specifically saying that broadband must be delivered to every home and business but rather, people that desire service must be able to purchase it.
Do you think the UK government is overstepping its boundaries by making broadband access a legal right?