The UK Government’s Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey has ruled out the introduction of a legal Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband in Britain. This revelation emerges alongside Ed Vaizey confirming that BT is officially bidding on all eight of the currently active superfast broadband procurement contracts.
BT’s move smells of both ambition and canniness; depending on one’s interpretation. The news should hardly come as a surprise however, given that they have already secured contractual rights for both Lancashire and Rutland, and look set to do so in Wales and the Highlands and Islands in Scotland.
Below is a list of the eight contracts available:
- Hereford and Gloucester
- North Yorkshire
- Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen
- Highlands and Islands
The agreement of all eight contracts should be sorted by the end of the month. The question that then begs to be asked, is whether BT are efficient enough for them to take upon the responsibility of installing superfast broadband in any of these regions.
A recent broadband speed test has concluded that Virgin provide the fastest internet speeds in the UK. This is measured in download, upload and basic connectivity speeds. Virgin’s success is based upon the usage of coaxial cables linking to the crucial ‘last kilometre’. BT meanwhile still merely relies on the use of fibre optic cables throughout all points of their connection process, and it is this very reason that causes their service to lag behind Virgin’s.
However, BT remain intent on providing superfast broadband to their customers, and it is this drive and determination that raises confidence in the network being able to provide a speedy service to these regions. In fact, BT recently announced the doubling of the download and upload speeds in their Infinity Package Contracts; which though still fall short of Virgin Media’s main packages, definitely signal strong intent and a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the prohibition of a legal USO in Britain is probably a step in the right direction. This will ensure no single telecommunications network secures a monopoly in the UK, based on anything but superior quality service. It will also challenge network providers to keep trying to up their speeds and services in the broadband speed race.