Digital Economy Bill to make 10Mbps internet access law

The legislation could be introduced as early as next spring if passed by Parliament

The Digital Economy Bill, which states everyone should have access to broadband internet operating at speeds of at least 10Mbps, may come into force as early as spring 2017.

Known as a universal service obligation (USO), the legislation states that every home and business in the country has the legal right to have a 10Mbps connection installed if they request it, in an attempt to boost the digital economy of the UK.

Although the government would really like everyone to have access to a connection of at least 24Mbps, it is not possible to ensure every home and business has such a fast connection because the infrastructure to support it is not yet in place.

It is thought up to 2.4 million properties are still without a 10Mbps connection.

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The digital economy minister, Ed Vaizey, said: "We want the UK to be a place where technology ceaselessly transforms the economy, society and government. The UK has always been at the forefront of technological change, and the measures in the Digital Economy Bill provide the necessary framework to make sure we remain world leaders."

Ofcom will be given the power oversee the roll out of 10Mbps internet across the UK and it will be responsible for updating guidelines as and where necessary to ensure it is always up to date when new services are introduced, such as ultra-high-definition TV.

Other sections of the Digital Economy Bill include the right for customers to switch suppliers more easily, as is the case with the current banking system, and clauses to protect consumers online, including against poronography and age inappropraite content, penalties for spammers and increased penalties for those engaging in copyright infringement.

Main image: House of Commons. Reproduced with the permission of Parliament.

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