Households deserve minimum 30Mbps broadband, votes House of Lords

The Digital Economy Bill should be amended to include this right, the House has proposed

Fiber optic cable under yellow-colored light

The House of Lords has put forward the notion that the Digital Economy Bill should be amended to give everyone in the UK the right to 30 Mbits/sec internet speeds.

At present, the bill specifies minimum speeds should be set at 10 Mbits/sec, but in his proposal to the House Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn said: "This may be sufficient today, but not by the time the USO is proposed to be delivered." 

He put forward the case for a new Universal Service Obligation (USO) that would boost the minimum download speed to 30 Mbits/sec, while the minimum speeds for uploads should be 6 Mbits/sec. This change is referred to as Amendment 1.

"[Amendment 1] places the universal service obligation for broadband on the face of the Bill and sets the following conditions: a target for broadband connection speeds of 2 gigabits or more; a minimum standard of 30 megabits download speed; that rollout must be rural and SME-focused; a requirement on the Secretary of State to ensure fair competition; and a universal service obligation for mobile coverage," Mendelsohn said.

The House of Lords voted in favour of this amendment, noting that the required investment of 1.1 billion to achieve speeds of 10 Mbits/sec should be increased to 2 billion to treble that speed. Mendelsohn described this increase as "extraordinarily well justified."

The proposal is off the back of a report in December by Ofcom that sets out three likely scenarios for the government's USO. The three suggestions included providing 10 Mbits/sec internet to the 1.4 million premises not currently covered by such speeds, a "more highly specified" 10 Mbits/sec download service with 1 Mbits/sec download for the 2.6 million premises without it and rolling out superfast broadband to 3.5 million homes without such a service at the moment.

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