The UK Government has just announced that high-speed broadband will be a legal right for all citizens from 2020. This means the service providers must offer access to any person that requests the connection. This announcement comes right after a proposal from UK’s largest telecommunications provider, BT. They propose to provide universal broadband coverage to all parts of the UK under a voluntary agreement.
The government believed that the matter of universal broadband warranted some kind of regulatory hand in the matter. The regulation called Universal Service Obligation (USO) will be sketched out in detail over the coming months. As the current announcement stands, everybody in the UK should have access to a high-speed broadband connection of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.
This decision comes at an interesting time indeed as the FCC in the United States just took action that involved reversing a decision that moved the classification of internet services from a Title I “information service” to a Title II “common carrier service.”
A Title II classification classifies the internet into the same category as telephone networks and allows firmer government regulations. The UK Government’s decision considers internet access more as a public service, in much the same way gas and electricity are considered to be fundamental services.
While FCC just allowed internet service providers to throttle a user’s internet speed, the UK government made it necessary for the internet service providers to deliver uninterrupted speeds of at least 10 Mbps. It is still unknown what USO regulation will be comprised of but the UK Government is looking to push it into the territory of net neutrality.
The decision of providing high-speed broadband internet access to all citizens who ask for it is a huge step in the positive direction and we will see how it is followed in the years to come.