The Member of the Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has today (13 January) welcomed the news that BT will write to approximately 375 homes or businesses across the constituency, to explain that they may be eligible to get a faster broadband connection under a new Universal Service Obligation.
Since 20th March 2020, every home and business in Aberconwy has had a legal right to request that BT delivers a ‘decent’ broadband service to them under the new Universal Service Obligation for Broadband. This is defined in law as a service with a download speed of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1Mbps.
Ofcom estimates that only around 0.5% of all premises in the UK (c.167,000) cannot access decent broadband, given the widespread availability of super-fast broadband and wireless solutions. It is these remaining premises that are eligible for the USO.
Commenting on the situation in Aberconwy, Janet said:
“A reliable broadband connection can play a significant role in community regeneration, especially as more of our lives have moved online. Statistics show that 40% of rural businesses made at least half of their purchases online in 2019, with 81% of rural SMEs now operating a website to increase trade.
“As working from home becomes a trend that shows no sign of abating, I welcome the news that BT is writing to many of my constituents and several local businesses to explain that they may be eligible to get a faster broadband connection under the new Universal Service Obligation.
“However, as industry officials have made plain in our continued discussions on the matter, delivering upgraded connectivity to hard-to-reach locations is often a major civil engineering challenge with high excess costs. In spite of this, I remain committed to finding a solution that benefits all concerned.
“With this in mind, I have begun a process of questioning the Welsh Government on the conversations that they are having with industry and Government partners to ensure that this issue is being properly considered.”
Notes to Editors:
- BT is currently in the process of writing directly to all eligible premises to inform them of their right to request. Anyone can check their eligibility and get further information at www.bt.com/uso or by contacting BT on 0800 783 0223. Customers are eligible if no commercial service is available (from BT or any other provider) that meets the USO specification.
- For USO-eligible premises, BT is required to upgrade their connectivity, on request, at no cost to the customer if the necessary works cost £3,400 or less (funded by BT and the wider industry).
- If costs per premise remain above £3,400, the customer has the choice of paying the full excess above this to initiate the necessary work. The law states that end users must pay this excess. BT say that they are putting in place a simple process for customers to share costs with neighbours who also benefit.