BT offer to bring 10Mbps broadband to 99% of the UK by 2020
In response to a proposed Government regulation, BT has offered to invest ?600m to bring 10Mbps broadband to 99% of UK households by 2020 and provide full coverage by 2022. Regulatory body Ofcom estimates that 1.4 million households do not get at least 10Mbps internet speed, though some MPs think the number is closer to 5.3 million. If the government accepts BT’s offer, then its own universal services obligation would be shelved.
The proposed plan, which was due to be rolled out in 2020, would give anyone in the UK the right to demand a 10Mbps broadband connection regardless of where they live. BT intends to proactively connect remote homes rather than wait for the request. Broadband speed test – find out if you’re getting the speeds offered by your provider
A good deal for consumers?
Although the government has yet to accept the offer, it was well received, with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley saying: ‘We warmly welcome BT’s offer and now will look at whether this or a regulatory approach works better for homes and businesses.
‘Whichever of the two approaches we go with in the end, the driving force behind our decision-making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers.’ If the government decides that BT’s offer is a better solution than the proposed universal services obligation then it would be legally binding. BT subsidiary Openreach would be responsible for carrying out the work and BT would recoup the costs through customer bills.
Labour’s shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson had reservations about BT’s plan. He warned: ‘Businesses will be concerned that the 10Mbps minimum broadband speed will be outdated and inadequate before it is even fully delivered. Rather than choose an ambitious broadband speed the government went with the cheapest, which will leave us running to catch up with digital developments for years to come.’
As streaming and downloading increases demand for faster speeds, it is possible that 10Mbps will not be quick enough by the time every household gets that speed by 2022. Netflix already recommends a minimum speed of 25Mbps to stream 4K content and the rapid increase of internet-connected devices in the home will further increase the strain. BT’s proposal is meeting the minimum requirements rather than looking ahead to what those requirements might be in three and five years time.
Slow speeds are holding the UK back
A recent report from the London Assembly highlighted how poor the UK’s internet is versus other European countries.
The report found that only 3% percent of the UK is connected to the internet via fibre optic cables. Fibre cabling is significantly faster than copper cabling, but only 3% of the UK is connected, while 83% of Spanish buildings are connected to fibre. Despite being the capital, London ranked 30th for high-speed broadband coverage out of 63 UK cities and ranked in the bottom five for 4G coverage.
Though London’s coverage is poor it wasn’t one of the regions with the slowest average speeds. The British Infrastructure Group of MPs found that Ross, Skye and Lochaber in Scotland have the worst broadband.
65.6% of connections are slower than the government’s minimum speed of 10Mbps. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr were the slowest regions in Wales where 58.2% of connections are slower than 10Mpbs.
Kingston upon Hull East, Yorkshire and the Humber were the slowest regions in England – 56.8% don’t reach 10Mbps.
Which? is campaigning to fix bad broadband
Our own research into internet speeds across the UK also found that Scottish regions were suffering the slowest speeds, with the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and the Highlands getting the slowest average download speeds. Our research has found that thousands of customers aren’t getting the speeds promised by their provider and we’re campaigning for everyone to get the broadband speeds they pay for. You can find out more about what we’re doing to draw attention to this problem on our Fix Bad Broadband campaign page and use our speed checker to help us get a better picture of the state of broadband in the UK.
Can you improve your connection?
If you don’t fancy waiting until 2022 to get 10Mbps broadband then you could do what Powys resident Professor Christopher Spry did. Tired of his rubbish 500kbps download speed, he took matters into his own hands and started getting his internet from a satellite 22,000 miles away over the Democratic Republic of Congo. He pays ?420 a year for the service and now gets 28Mbps download speeds, which isn’t far off the 30.4Mbps average speed for Tamworth, which our research found to have the fastest speeds in the UK.