Government responds to its consultation on the introduction of a broadband USO
Government published yesterday a summary of the responses received on its recent consultation on a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). After gathering views on the proposed roadmap to implementing a new broadband USO, Government commented on the various issues raised by respondents.
Government reinstated that the best approach to deliver universally available, fast, affordable broadband access is through a demand-led USO approach, underlining however its commitment to improving digital connectivity (as Government funded and commercial superfast roll-out schemes are still ongoing).
Regarding the minimum speed, and other technical specifications of the USO, which will be detailed in secondary legislation, careful consideration will need to be taken to ensure that the USO is defined as a safety-net and is only delivered in areas of market failure. It is worth noting that the criteria defining the broadband USO in the UK will need to comply with the requirements of the EU Universal Service Directive.
The Government’s response doesn’t include further details on the timeline for the actual implementation of the USO – its introduction will be subject to adoption of primary and secondary legislation (following Ofcom’s recommendations on how it should be designed, which will also be subject to public consultation next year. The review of the EU Universal Service Directive, due to start in the autumn this year is likely to affect the timetable too.