BT and Kcom will be responsible for ensuring UK homes and businesses have access to a broadband service capable of delivering download speeds of at least 10Mbps after being named the lead Universal Service Obligation (USO) provider by Ofcom.
The Broadband USO initiative was introduced by the Government last year and will help ensure people get a minimum level of speed no matter where they live.
Under the legislation for the new service, the cost of providing connections to eligible homes will be paid for up to a limit of £3,400. If the required work costs more than that, customers can either pay the additional costs or seek an alternative solution outside the universal service, such as satellite broadband.
Customers connected through the new universal service will pay the same prices and as other broadband customers who have an equivalent connection.
According to Ofcom, 600,000 premises are eligible to benefit from the new scheme, although the regulator says this number is decreasing as broadband networks are upgraded.
BT will be responsible for delivering the USO across the UK, except in Hull where KCOM will administer the scheme. Both firms will have to March next year to get their schemes up and running.
BT says its already worked with the regulator to demonstrate that over 75 per cent of the 600,000 consumers and businesses without access to broadband speeds of 10Mbps can exceed that speed speed using EE’s Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) products and that as a result Openreach will focus on “the more manageable task of connecting the remaining 25 per cent of premises as part of the Broadband USO.”
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “As more of our daily lives move online, bringing better broadband to people and businesses is crucial.
“From next year, this new broadband safety net will give everyone a legal right to request a decent connection – whether you live in a city or a hamlet. This will be vital for people who are struggling to get the broadband they need.”
Chief Executive Philip Jansen said: “BT is very pleased to have been chosen by Ofcom to deliver the Government’s promise to connect the UK.
“It’s great news that the majority of homes and businesses in rural areas can choose a fixed wireless service from EE to solve the problem of slow broadband and get speeds way faster than 10Mbps.
“Through Openreach we are now extending our fibre broadband network to reach an additional 40,000 premises within the USO area for whom FWA is not the answer.
“We’ll continue to drive discussions with Ofcom, Government and industry to explore alternative options to connect up every property in the country and ensure no-one is left behind.”