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Ofcom rules out broadband USO

It's 'undesirable' apparently

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The notion that broadband should be universally available in the UK has been kicked into the long grass after regulator Ofcom ruled that high speed net access should not be part of a universal service obligation (USO).

Publishing its review of the USO - which ensures that basic fixed line services are available at an affordable price across the UK - Ofcom said that the time wasn't right to impose such restrictions on telecoms providers.

Campaigners in the past have urged the regulator to include broadband as a USO because of its importance to the national economy. Much of the clamour for a USO came at time when broadband availability was limited. But ever since investment in rolling out broadband has helped make it available to more than nine in ten of the UK population, calls high speed services to be made universally available have become less vocal.

According to Ofcom, imposing a USO for broadband at this time "would be undesirable" since the broadband market is "still developing". And since the Government is determined to take a "technology neutral approach and let the market decide which technologies are most appropriate for different circumstances", it believes doing nothing is the best course of action.

"By imposing a USO and in choosing which suppliers were required to fill that obligation, the Government would define one particular technology as broadband. As well as conflicting with the Government's technology neutral approach, this could lead to imbalance in the market, less competitiveness and less consumer choice," said Ofcom in its report.

That said, Ofcom stopped short of ruling out a USO for broadband at some time in the future believing this would "not be appropriate". ®

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