Publication | BRG white paper

The UK Broadband USO

Mark Williams, Kalyan Dasgupta, and Mark Falcon

October 2016

A Great Idea, But Not So Easy to Deliver

Mark Williams, Kalyan Dasgupta, and Mark Falcon discuss principles for the proposed broadband universal service obligation (USO), as well as potential options for how it could be implemented.

Responses to Ofcom’s Call for Inputs Highlight All the Challenges

Ofcom’s call for inputs (CFI) on the proposed broadband universal service obligation (USO) identified six areas on which it sought stakeholders’ inputs:

  • Specification and scope of the USO
  • Demand for the USO
  • Cost, proportionality and efficiency of the USO
  • The universal service provider or providers (USP(s))
  • Funding of the USO and potential market distortions
  • Review of the USO

The call elicited many responses, ranging from the major network operators to individual consumers. The breadth of the responses is an indication of the commercial significance for the industry but also shows how important broadband provision has become to consumers and to society more generally. The views expressed also give an indication of how challenging it will be to implement what is, on the face of it, a fairly straightforward policy objective: ensuring that all citizens of the UK have access to broadband, irrespective of where they live.