LONDON (Reuters) - British homes and businesses will have a right to high-speed broadband by 2020, the government said on Wednesday, after it decided regulation was better than a voluntary agreement with network provider BT to deliver decent connections for all.
The government said only a universal service obligation (USO) offered the certainty required to ensure broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps to the whole of the UK by 2020.
Under the plan, broadband providers will face a legal requirement to provide high-speed broadband to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold.
"We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work," Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said.
BT, which provides broadband to its own customers and to other suppliers through its Openreach network, said it respected the government's decision.
"BT and Openreach want to get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK so we'll continue to explore the commercial options for bringing faster speeds to those parts of the country which are hardest-to-reach," it said.
"We look forward to receiving more details from the Government outlining its approach to defining the regulatory USO, including the proposed funding mechanism."
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton)