Home » News » UK to get legal right to decent and affordable broadband

UK to get legal right to decent and affordable broadband

New legislation will ensure minimum speeds for every UK household.

a photo of a neon sign reading high speed internet
Img: Tony Webster

Wednesday, 12 June, 2019

Ofcom has announced that from March next year everyone in the UK will have the legal right ‘to request a decent and affordable broadband connection’ under the government’s ‘Universal Broadband Service’ safety net.

According to Ofcom, households will be able to request broadband capable of delivering download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbps. Under the legislation these speeds will be regularly reviewed, particularly as the amount of data people use is constantly changing.

Based on present day figures, 62,000 homes and offices would benefit from the new scheme, although upgrades to broadband networks means this figure is decreasing. These homes, Ofcom said, were among the most remote in the country or of a distance from a network that made getting a decent broadband service extremely difficult.

As more of our daily lives move online, bringing better broadband to people and businesses is crucial. From next year, this broadband safety net will give everyone a legal right to request a decent connection – whether you live in a city or hamlet. This will be vital for people who are struggling to get the broadband they need.

- Lindsey Fussell: Consumer Group Director, Ofcom

Ofcom has appointed BT and KCOM, the UK’s oldest communications company, which is located in Hull, to provide the universal service connections. KCOM are to retain reponsibility for the Hull area, while BT will provide connections throughout the rest of the UK.

Both companies have been given until 20th March 2020 to make all necessary preparations, which will include substantial changes to their systems and processes.

From 20th March 2020 people will then be able to make a request and BT or KCOM will have 30 days to confirm whether the person is eligible. Once confirmed the two companies will have to deliver the connection as quickly as possible under strict targets set by Ofcom.

The cost of providing connections to eligible homes will be paid for up to £3,400. If any required work costs more than that customers can either pay the additional costs or look for an alternative solution outside of the universal service, such as satellite broadband.

Broadband coverage is improving all the time and 95% of homes and small businesses can access superfast broadband. However, this safety net is needed to cover the 2% that currently can’t get decent broadband and, in particular, to stop the development of a two-tier system.

Image: Tony Webster

Tim Bamford author picture


Tim is a veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.

News What's the story?

Keep up with the latest developments in UK broadband.

The biggest malware threats of 2020…so far

It’s been a year few of us will forget in a hurry, and we're only halfway through.

The biggest malware threats of 2020…so farThe biggest malware threats of 2020…so far Read more

Instagram could become the main news source for young people.

Reuters finds changes in the way younger users consume the news.

Read more

BT launches second line service

BT launches second broadband home line service for the new crop of home workers.

Read more

Best broadband areas for online gaming in the UK.

Read more

Help Learn with us

Make the most of the internet with our broadband library.

How to check if your broadband is down

It might seem obvious that an outage has occurred, but there are easy ways to check if your broadband is down, or whether the problem is more localised

How to check if your broadband is downHow to check if your broadband is down Read more

A guide to Big Tech alternatives.

It seems like we’re reliant on a small group of companies, are there alternatives?

Read more

Quick tips for boosting home broadband speed

Boosting speed can transform activities like streaming, gaming and accessing cloud storage

Read more

What’s the difference between hardware, firmware and software?

Read more