Dec 17, 2017

Legal threat hangs over UK decision on faster rural broadband

The threat of legal action by rival broadband companies is hanging over a UK government decision this week on how best to upgrade the connections of 1.1m homes in rural areas. An announcement is expected in the coming days over whether a £600m offer from BT to improve broadband speeds in sparsely populated areas is acceptable to the government. Other companies have complained that the government would be allowing BT to in effect lock in its monopoly position, because smaller companies targeting rural areas with new fibre would have no input into the debate over the rollout. The government's alternative is to insist on a universal service obligation under which rural broadband users will have the legal right to demand an upgrade. Having such a system would deliver the manifesto pledge of everyone having "Access" to faster broadband, the government said.

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