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BT to be freed from service obligations

Government flies kite

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Communications minister Lord Carter is to free BT from its universal service obligations - its legal duty to run a phone line to every home in the country, as well as provide payphones and other basic services available at a reasonable cost.

Instead Carter is expected to call for universal broadband access, wireless or wired, for every home to be an obligation for the industry as a whole.

BT has been asking for years to be freed from USO - the most recent reason being costs of setting up its new network, 21CN.

Carter is due to deliver his Digital Review later this month and the Times expects it to follow at least in part the French model, where operators all contribute a levy to help pay for basic services for disadvantaged or remote customers.

The Digital Review is also looking at the future of DAB radio and Channel 4's funding. ®

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