Broadband Universal Service Obligation/Commitment: FISP Responds to Ofcom’s ‘Call for Input’

By | June 19, 2016

Following our earlier consideration of DCMS outline policy on a Broadband Universal Service Commitment, FISP today responded to Ofcom’s ‘Call For Input’ to explore how such policy might be implemented.

Within FISP and its Advisory Network, the likelihood of a beneficial impact of the proposed Broadband Obligation (or Commitment) on progress towards UK-wide economic imperatives in this digitalised era was considered to be unlikely.  Although our well-informed network of expert opinion produced a wide range of views and diversely weighted various aspects of the policy, the FISP response noted that:

  • The defined target speed will not meet the future needs of the UK economy
  • The provision of a 10Mb/s download universal service is technically unattainable with only conventional ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ solutions.
  • Failure to provide universal, fit for purpose, broadband connectivity will have social and regional policy implications – even London is so affected – and it is important that Ofcom is able to identify such unserved or twilight areas.

FISP found considerable support for the notion that the term “Universal Service Obligation” is no longer appropriate. It might be better to talk about universal service policy and not USO policy. A USO is one way amongst many of implementing universal service policy.

FISP is clear that responsibility for policy on universal service rests with government, having due regard to advice from Ofcom. We also understand that the current CFI from Ofcom is intended to inform policy-makers and that government will launch a further consultation later in 2016 based on that information.

A full copy of the 6-page FISP input is available for download and FISP has offered to assist Ofcom (and DCMS) in further informed consideration of a Universal Policy and its implementation challenges.

FISP response to the Ofcom consultation on designing a broadband USO