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Oftel ducks making broadband mandatory

Keeps situation 'under review'

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Oftel today confirmed that the universal service obligation (USO) which ensures that basic telephone services are available to all consumers at affordable prices would continue to apply in the UK.

However, the telcoms regulator stopped short of extending the USO to include the mandatory provision of broadband and mobile services.

Instead, it said it would keep the situation "under review".

It's understood that any extension to the current USO to include broadband and mobile services would only occur following a change of legislation from the European Union.

Eurocrats aren't expected to deliver their views on the issue until 2005.

In a statement David Edmonds, head boy of Oftel said: "Everybody has a right to basic telephone services at affordable prices.

"Although around 99 per cent of households now possess either fixed-line or a mobile phone, the universal service obligation still has major role to play in protecting consumers.

"It is vital that we continue to ensure that those on low incomes and in remote areas still have access to basic telephony services which is why we have concluded that these requirements should be maintained," he said.

It's just a shame he - and the Government - doesn't hold the same opinion about affordable universal access for broadband. ®

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