MPS ON THE House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee have called for the minimum internet speeds that customers can expect under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) to be increased from 10Mbps to 30Mbps by 2022.
The call was made in a report released today entitled Establishing world-class connectivity throughout the UK, which also called for the break-up of BT as a result of stalled investment spending that it claimed is holding back the development of broadband in the UK.
The call by MPs follows a recommendation from Ofcom that the USO should include a minimum of 10Mbps compared with the current 2Mbps. But MPs have gone further, suggesting that consumers and businesses should expect a minimum of 30Mbps by 2022.
This would necessitate a nationwide shift to at least fibre-to-the-cabinet, which typically offers up to 38Mbps or 70Mbps under BT's Infinity 1 or Infinity 2 wholesale packages.
BT is also experimenting with technology that will provide connections in excess of 100Mbps. Virgin Media, meanwhile, offers connections of up to 200Mbps.
BT reduced broadband investment following the global financial crisis of 2008, the Committee was told, a fall that BT still hasn't made good despite the fact that it was able to find the funds to acquire mobile operator EE this year.
Equally seriously, housebuilders and local authorities fail to raise the issue of superfast broadband until too late in the planning process.
"In response to economic difficulties following the 2008 financial crash, Openreach reduced investment in its broadband network. This has resulted in many new housing estates being left without coverage, but it is not the sole reason," the report said.
"In several instances, we heard from BT that neither housebuilders nor planning authorities liaised with them during the planning stage."
However, despite toying with the idea of a 30Mbps minimum target for 2022, the Committee instead formally called for the target to be raised to 10Mbps, and only in four years' time, by 2020.
Still, that's a considerable improvement on the USO from 2005, which decreed that BT (and Kingston Communications if you live in Hull) must provide a connection of at least 28Kbps. Yes, kids, that's kilobits per second. µ
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