Date set for USO introduction

Date set for USO introduction

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The Universal Service Obligation (USO) that will ensure every home and business in the UK has a right to request a minimum standard of internet connectivity is set to go into force from March 20th 2020, the telecoms regulator has confirmed.

Ofcom confirmed the start date for the new requirements, which were brought in under new legislation passed last year and will be delivered throughout the country by BT, with the exception of the HUll area, where KCOM will be responsible.

It will mean any home or business that currently struggles with poor internet speeds will be able to request a better connection, with the minimum requirements being 10Mbps for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads.

Ofcom estimated that 620,000 homes and offices stand to benefit from this obligation as of today, although by the time the USO comes into force, it expects this number to have decreased as continuing efforts are made to improve broadband speeds.

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."

Once a home or business make a request, BT or KCOM will have 30 days to determine if the customer is eligible. Factors to be taken into account in this decision include whether the property already has access to decent broadband at an affordable price, or if it is due to be connected by a publicly-funded scheme within 12 months. 

If not, the provider will be expected to deliver an improved connection as quickly as possible, with Ofcom having set strict targets for the rollout of such services.

BT will be required to deliver at least 80 per cent of connections within 12 months, 95 per cent within 18 months and 99 per cent within 24 months of the confirmed USO order. KCOM, meanwhile, must deliver a USO connection as quickly as possible and no later than 12 months after someone places their order, unless there are exceptional circumstances that make it more difficult.

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