Ofcom has named BT and KCOM as its proposed providers for the forthcoming broadband universal service obligation.
Ofcom has confirmed that BT and KCOM should be the designated providers for the UK's Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband, which is set to be implemented by 2020.
Plans for the USO were introduced by the government in March, and will ensure that every home and business in the UK has the right to request a minimum broadband speed of 10Mbps to their property.
Ofcom asked providers to put themselves forward back in the summer, and has now accepted BT and KCOM's bids, as they were the only providers that met three key criteria set out by the regulator.
These were that the firms be capable of financing the delivery of the USO, that they would be able to cover more than 5,000 eligible premises in each chosen local authority, and that the technology they used met key standards.
Five other providers that expressed interest in being a USO provider – Airband, Bentley Walker, Broadway Partners, Quickline and Viasat – failed to meet all three requirements, while Hyperoptic, which did meet the criteria, withdrew its interest.
Ofcom therefore stated: "We propose BT as the universal service provider across the whole of the UK excluding the Hull area, and KCOM for the Hull area. As this is a consultation, other operators still have the opportunity to come forward if they wish to be considered as a universal service provider."
Once implemented, this will mean that any home or business that does not currently receive a decent broadband connection – defined by the USO as download speeds of 10Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps – will have the right to request an upgrade service. Ofcom estimated that around 600,000 premises will fall into this category by the early 2020s.
This does not necessarily mean that they are guaranteed to automatically receive faster speeds, as consumers or businesses may have to contribute to the cost of such a rollout if it will exceed £3,400 to install.
Ofcom estimates that 10Mbps downloads is the speed needed to meet an average household's internet needs, including the ability for multiple users to use the internet at the same time and access services such as web browsing, video streaming, video calling and gaming.
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