High-speed broadband boost for rural stores

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today said it would ensure that everyone in the UK would be able to request high- speed broadband by 2020. In the 2017 Rural Shop Report, the ACS highlighted the problems that retailers, especially the 19,000 rural convenience stores, faced when trying to invest in their business with substandard broadband speeds. The ACS called for the government to deliver the Universal Service Obligation at a minimum speed of 10mbps.

Today’s announcement, said the ACS, provided the basis for a regulatory framework for minimum broadband speeds for all consumers and businesses. The government had previously received a proposal from BT to deliver universal broadband through a voluntary agreement. However, in a statement the government said it “did not feel the proposal was strong enough for us to take the regulatory Universal Service Obligation off the table, and have therefore decided not to pursue BT’s proposal in favour of providing a legal right to broadband”.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores provide a range of services to customers, many of which increasingly rely on high-speed broadband connections to be efficiently maintained.

40% of convenience store retailers report that they do not have access to high-speed broadband, which is holding back the development of their business.

We welcome the government’s commitment to provide everyone with the means to request high- speed broadband.”

The government will set out the design for a legal right to high-speed broadband in secondary legislation early next year.

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