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Hard-up Brits 'should get subsidy for 10Mbps'
Thursday, 20 October 2016 19:27

Folks in the UK unable to afford speeds of 10Mbps under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) should be offered a subsidy, the representative body for 370 councils has said today.

The Local Government Association is calling on the government to introduce a subsidised broadband service to help anyone facing undue hardship in paying a market rate, ahead of the Autumn Statement next month.

The government intends to introduce a USO to ensure everyone in the country has 10Mbps by 2020. Details as to how that will work are yet to be agreed upon.

Speaking at the Broadband World Forum yesterday, digital minister Matt Hancock said Ofcom would consult on the details of the scheme over the autumn.

He said: "I welcome BT’s proposal that they are willing to provide high speed broadband to 100 per cent of premises by 2020. We are talking to them about that offer and will decide a way forward later this year in light of Ofcom’s advice."

The LGA noted that BT already provides a basic subsidised BT telephony and broadband package to its qualifying customers.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, chair of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said as government services become more digital, the USO will need to provide faster and more reliable speeds and for vulnerable residents.

“The quality of digital connectivity can be markedly different from area to area with some households being able to access superfast broadband speeds whilst others can only achieve substantially less. Councils want to see a social tariff enabling all people to be able to access a subsidised broadband service.”

The LGA has been increasingly vocal on a number of broadband issues. In August it hit out at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for advertising misleading broadband speeds. Last month it lobbied Ofcom to request address level data from providers to allow for more accurate comparisons for consumers. ®

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Source: http://bit.ly/2eOsuO0