The government has outlined plans in the Queen's Speech for every household in the UK to have "the right" to high-speed broadband and automatic compensation for those that get left behind.
The plans were outlined by the Queen in the State Opening of Parliament today. She said that the government's proposed Digital Economy Bill will "make the UK a world leader in digital provision", in which the country would be "ceaselessly" transformed by technology.
"Legislation will be introduced to ... make the United Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy," the Queen said.
The broadband promises will be underwritten by a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation which expects minimum UK broadband speeds to be 10Mbps initially. The Bill would also, however, deliver direct power to Ofcom to "review the speed over time to make sure it is still sufficient for modern life".
Ofcom will also be given the power to release data on customer complaints and actual broadband speeds to help customers better navigate the market. Automatic compensation is also promised for when things go wrong with a broadband service.
The Bill lays out welcome developments for UK customers still suffering from poor quality connections, especially in low bandwidth areas, while certain government ministers regularly tout their own apparent success with fast broadband rollouts.
However, the so-called "new" nature of the Universal Service Obligation is slightly strange in that 10Mbps has been the government's supposed service standard since prime minister David Cameron's speech on the matter in November.
Cameron also spoke at the time of access to superfast broadband as a "right".
Ofcom laid out its own spin on the plans on 12 May, mentioning an idea to harness a sub-band in the 5GHz frequency range (most routers currently use the 2.4GHz frequency) while ensuring protection for other users, such as satellite services.
The government seems to be presenting old promises as new, but it is encouraging to see realistic broadband provision in rural and other ‘notspot' areas of the UK to counter the ongoing bluster of politicians.
However, 10Mbps per second still seems a low target for a rural UK filled with such digital promise.
Paul Evans, CEO of internet speed boosting company Boosty, is also concerned that the UK's infrastructure isn't robust enough to support such changes in the timeframes envisaged by the government.
"Realistically, even if the government's plans are pushed through, it could still take up to five or six years to roll out superfast fibre broadband," he said.
"By then the broadband infrastructure may not be sufficient to support a new generation of digital services."
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