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Access to broadband to be as universal as water and electricity by 2020

The government promises that UK people and businesses will all have access to broadband by the end of the current parliament

Prime minister David Cameron has promised fast broadband to everyone in the UK by the end of the current parliament, with a legal right for citizens everywhere to request a connection to broadband with speeds of at least 10Mbps.

Cameron said access to the internet should be a right for all because it is “fundamental to life”.

“Fast broadband connectivity is now seen as a key service, essential not only for busy families but also for businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK. The latest data from Ofcom confirms 10Mbps is the speed needed to meet the demands of today’s typical family and many small business,” he added.

“A universal service obligation [USO] will provide a safety net to make sure households and businesses can get the broadband speeds needed to do business online, access key services or stream live TV.”

The USO could be upgraded over time as technology and demand evolve, said a government announcement.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale said coverage has already reached more than 83% of UK homes and businesses. “The government’s superfast programme is on track to extend that to 95% by the end of 2017,” he added.

According to John Cridland, director general at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), putting an end to the digital divide will be a “shot in the arm” for regional growth.

“For businesses today, high-quality digital connectivity is as crucial to growth and productivity as roads, railways and airports. So the government’s commitment to continually raise the bar with this new universal service obligation of 10Mbps will be welcomed by businesses around the UK,” he said.

The CBI said its recent infrastructure survey showed that digital networks have greatly improved in, but advancements in technology mean expectations are rising.

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