The Countryside Alliance has welcomed Ofcom’s latest move to deliver the Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband throughout the UK. Ofcom has issued a request for expressions of interest in serving as Universal Service Provider for broadband. It is vital that suitable providers are identified swiftly and the USO fully implemented across all parts of the UK. As the consultation document notes, there were 925,000 premises unable to receive 10 Mbit/s download and 1 Mbit/s upload  sync speed in the UK at the beginning of 2018. Rural areas are disproportionately disadvantaged, with the percentage of premises without access to decent broadband being considerably higher in the more rural parts of the country.

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance said: “We welcome the fact that Ofcom are moving ahead with delivering the USO, which is now a legal right for the consumer. High speed broadband is as essential in the digital age as water and electricity and rural households and businesses must have access to broadband at decent speeds. The current gaps in provision are holding back the rural economy and must be addressed. Ofcom must continue to drive delivery forward with Government, with providers using the full range of technologies especially in those hard to reach areas. Whoever the provider(s) chosen to deliver the USO are, they must deliver the USO as a matter of priority and by 2020 as promised by Government.”