The government has announced that Internet access is to be considered an essential utility, with all British homes and businesses given the right to a 10Mbit/s connection.
Speaking last week the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that giving Internet access an equal footing with other basic services, like water and electricity, will cement Britain’s position as the most digitised major economy in Europe.
A broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) is currently being drafted which will give everyone the legal right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10Mbit/s, no matter where they live.
The latest data from communications regulator Ofcom shows that 10Mbit/s is the minimum speed needed to meet the demands of typical families and business in the UK.
“Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain,” Cameron said.
“That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. 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.”
A USO is designed to ensure that all households and businesses can access the broadband speeds needed to do business online, use key services or stream live TV.
The obligation may also be upgraded over time as technology and demand evolve, which the government said it will consult on in early 2016.
Ofcom said it will release a new mobile app later in the year to allow consumers to confirm that their home Wi-Fi is working correctly. This will be followed by detailed, address-level mobile and broadband speed data next year to help people make more informed decisions about things like moving home or starting a business.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “The UK’s digital landscape is being transformed. Our roll-out of superfast broadband is helping millions of people who would otherwise have missed out to get online.
“Coverage has already reached more than 83 per cent of UK homes and businesses. By next month, 3.5 million more UK homes and businesses will have access to superfast speeds – and the government’s superfast programme is on track to extend that to 95 per cent by the end of 2017.”
Earlier this year, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, said that Internet access should become a human right.