David Cameron has promised to dramatically increase broadband speeds for families and small businesses, giving people the legal right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10 Mbps, regardless of where they are in the UK.
A commitment to faster internet speeds
The Prime Minister spoke this week about the need for everyone to have access to faster broadband speeds, as he looks to make the UK the most digitised major economy in Europe.
Cameron confirmed that work is already underway to create a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), which would give everyone, including small business owners, the right to a 10mbps connection.
The department for culture, media and sport cited Ofcom in its explanation for offering this speed, but according to the watchdog’s report into fixed-line broadband, the average speed for UK customers is 22.8 mbps, significantly more than what the Prime Minister is offering to UK citizens.
‘‘Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain,’’ said Cameron.
‘‘Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it. That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe,’’ continued the Prime Minister.
The government department claimed that due to its pre-existing work on faster broadband speeds, over ”three million homes and businesses across the UK already have access to super-fast speeds (24 Mbps or better).” The government hopes to increase that figure to 95 per cent of the UK population by 2017, as part of its plans to ”to bring more jobs, skills, growth and opportunities to the people of this country.”
Broadband is essential to small businesses
This announcement has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) as they have been campaigning for faster internet speeds for a number of years. The small business organisation released a report which found that approximately 45,000 small businesses (1 per cent of Britain’s 4.5 million small businesses) still have to rely on a dial-up connection.
John Allan, national chairman of the FSB said that his member would be encouraged by this announcement, but is curious to see how the government will fund the initiative and will be expecting to see more details about Cameron’s plan in the near future.
‘‘The FSB has long called for a Universal Service Obligation of 10Mbps and is pleased to see the Government setting this as a minimum broadband speed,’’ explained Allan.
‘‘Recent FSB research found that 99 per cent of small firms rate the internet as highly important to their business. But our members say the service they get often falls short of what they need or have been told to expect. Giving all businesses the opportunity for better broadband access should create more jobs and provide a boost to productivity.’’