UK Councils demand law to guarantee fast broadband for all
Council leaders from around the UK have joined with the Local Government Association (LGA) to propose that the planned minimum universal UK broadband speed target of 2Mbps by 2012 be turned from a "commitment" (USC) into a legally required "obligation" (USO). This would effectively force the government, operators and ISPs to guarantee the availability of 2Mbps to everybody, which is distinctly tougher than a breakable commitment.
Keith Mitchell of the LGA, which has forwarded the proposals to MP's, told the Telegraph:
"[Fast internet was now] essential to everyday life [and should be viewed as a necessity rather than a luxury]. From doing business, to banking online, accessing information or just downloading music, high speed broadband would change the lives of people and boost businesses in rural areas across the country."
It's understood that the proposal was selected from a shortlist of 300 ideas that had been put forward as options to help improve local life, which had in turn been submitted by local council's across the country. Sadly the government remains firmly behind its Universal Service Commitment (USC) of 2Mbps, as proposed by last June's Digital Britain report (here).
A Government statement read:
"We believe this commitment achieves the best possible balance between faster services and affordability. Our plans foresee a fast roll-out of 2Mbps by 2012, after which our efforts and resources will focus on enabling Next Generation Access to most of the UK by 2017, providing much higher speeds of 40Mbps or more."
We note that neither the new USO proposal nor the existing USC appear to factor in other critical elements of delivering a reliable broadband service. Key issues such as the need for low latency connections, a minimum upload speed guarantee, service flexibility (reasonably good usage allowances) and of course affordability continue to be ignored.
ISPreview does not believe it is any good promising 2Mbps to everybody if the services delivered rarely achieve that speed, are not affordable for those on lower incomes and lack the flexibility to fully access and use modern online content, games and video services. However there is of course the issue of cost and who pays for all this? The government has set aside some cash for a USC but we have not as yet seen any clear plan for how it will be spent or whether it would even be enough.
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