Faster broadband speeds will be a legal right to all UK homes and businesses by 2020
The government has promised that the whole of the UK will legally have the right to access internet speeds of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.
BT, which is responsible for the infrastructure, had previously offered to carry out improvements to its own timetable but has said it will accept the government’s decision.
Regulatory Ofcom said that 4% of UK premises (about 1.1 million) could not access broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps.
Poor connections were a particular concern for small businesses, with almost 230, 000 unable to get a decent service.
Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital said, “Access means you can phone up somebody, ask for it and then someone has the legal duty to deliver on that promise.
“It is about having the right to demand it, so it will be an on-demand programme.”
BT responded, “BT and Openreach want to get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK, so we’ll continue to explore the commercial options for bringing faster speeds to those parts of the country which are hardest to reach.”
Following the introduction of secondary legislation early next year, it is thought that it will take another two years before the right is enforced by Ofcom.
BT has said it would cost up to £600 million to provide access for 98.5% of premises by 2020. Another 0.7% would have access to a service delivered by a combination of fixed and wireless connections. The remaining 0.8% in the most difficult-to-reach areas would have been guided toward satellite or on-demand fibre solutions.
Trisha Harrison, TalkTalk chief executive, said, “By opting for formal regulation rather than weaker promises, ministers are guaranteeing consumers will get the minimum speeds they need at a price they can afford.
“The whole industry now needs to work together to ensure customers see the benefits as quickly as possible.”
Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “Government have made the right decision by choosing a fair and transparent approach that maintains competition, keeps prices fair and gives consumers a legal right to request broadband.”