Telecommunications

UK Government moves to classify high-speed broadband access as a "legal right"

UK Government moves to classif...
Hot on the heels of the FCC's net neutrality repeal, the UK Government has offered up a new regulation to classify internet access as a "legal right"
Hot on the heels of the FCC's net neutrality repeal, the UK Government has offered up a new regulation to classify internet access as a "legal right"
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Hot on the heels of the FCC's net neutrality repeal, the UK Government has offered up a new regulation to classify internet access as a "legal right"
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Hot on the heels of the FCC's net neutrality repeal, the UK Government has offered up a new regulation to classify internet access as a "legal right"

The UK Government has just announced that from 2020, high-speed broadband will be considered a legal right for all its citizens, meaning service providers must offer access to any person that requests it. The announcement follows a proposal from BT, the UK's largest telecommunications provider, to provide universal broadband coverage to all areas of the UK under a voluntary agreement. The Government, however, felt the importance of universal broadband access required a regulatory hand in the matter.

Called the Universal Service Obligation (USO), this regulation will be sketched out in detail over the coming months but the current announcement stipulates that everyone in the UK must have access to a broadband connection of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.

The move by the UK Government comes at an interesting time, literally days after the FCC in the United States repealed the Obama-era net neutrality regulations. Part of the recent FCC action involved reversing a decision that moved the classification of internet services from a Title I "information service" to a Title II "common carrier service."

A Title II classification meant the internet could be considered under the same umbrella as telephone networks, which would allow for firmer government regulation. This classification considers internet access more as a public service, in much the same way gas and electricity are considered to be fundamental services.

While the FCC has ostensibly just moved to allow internet service providers the freedom to throttle a user's internet speed, the UK government has said internet service providers must, by law, deliver unfettered speeds of at least 10 Mbps. It is yet to be determined what details will fill out this USO regulation, but it will certainly be interesting to watch how far the UK Government looks to push this regulation into territory that resembles the net neutrality regulations that have just been overturned in the US.

The UK moving to classify broadband internet access as a "legal right" follows on from a United Nations declaration in late 2016 considering internet access to be a "human right." The UN added several amendments to its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifying free access to the internet as vital for an open society.

Source: Gov.uk

5 comments
Altronix
To suggest that 10Mbps is high speed is ridiculous. This is nowhere near fast enough for even low quality streaming. Perhaps they mean 10MBps?
Brian M
@Altronix - You have to remember that OFCOM the UK regulator is run by an ex-civil servant who has absolutely no technical experience whatsoever - came from government finance, and we know how bad that is! If the broadband or phone companies say jump, she replies how high! 10 Mbit - bet that is download only as well, probably 200kBit upload if the wind is with you.
Lardo
"The Government, however, felt the importance of universal broadband access required a regulatory hand in the matter." Ah yes. And therein lies the rub. In order for government to acquire even more control over the people, they simply declare that whatever the people want is a "right", which must be given them, but under government regulation so that everyone is treated equally. So now tell me... what ISN'T a right these days? Listen, I require nourishment to survive. Does that mean I have a "right" to free food? (God, I hope not. We'll all be eating tofu & sea-weed.) I also need a dependable vehicle in order to get to work. So do I have a "right" to a free car? Should FoMoCo, or GM, or whoever, GIVE me whatever model I desire? (Again, I hope not. Or we'll all be driving Smart4Two's. that is if they don't bring back the Yugo.) Point is, internet access, like so many other things, is not a "right". It's a desire. You want it, pay for it yourself.
IvanWashington
I hope one day, amuuurica can reach that level of civilization...
52minus1
The UK Government is probably trying to establish the practice of determining who can and can't access the internet. Just like 'human rights', governments decide who has them and who doesn't. They come with all kinds of exclusion clauses. All the government has to do is determine that someone is a 'risk to the public' and their rights vanish in the blink of an eye.