/ Technology

Your universal right to broadband, even in rural areas

Broadband on country lane

Are you in a rural area still waiting for decent broadband? You may be in luck. The Government has announced plans to put broadband access on a similar footing to essential services, like water and electricity.

The Government plans to introduce a new universal service obligation for broadband. This’ll give you the legal right to request an ‘affordable’ connection to broadband with speeds of at least 10Mbps. And that’s no matter where you live.

So if you’re in one of the unlucky two million homes that doesn’t have access to the net, you’ll be able to demand a decent broadband connection.

At the announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

‘Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain.

‘Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.’

Broadband speeds in rural areas

It’s a big claim and one that should be good news for Which? Convo commenter David Mitchell, who told us last week:

‘I live in rural Suffolk and have struggled for years with a broadband download speed of around 1mbs. Upload sometimes dwindled to Zero. The county council has a contract with BT to upgrade this ‘uneconomic’ area with the help of government cash but progress is glacially slow and the latest timetable is for us to get a speed of 2mbps by the end of 2017.’

We’ll be keeping an eye out for more news on the universal service obligation and what it will mean for people without access. There will also no doubt be questions about the cost of reaching 10mbps countrywide and who will pay. Whatever the case, it will be important that the cost is transparent and doesn’t spiral out of control.

Are you struggling to get speeds anywhere close to 10Mbps? Are you pleased to see the Government take this issue seriously? As soon as we know more about when you’ll be able to exercise your new rights, we’ll let you know.

Useful links

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Use our free tool to test your broadband speed

Katie R says:
19 November 2015

I’d like a mobile phone signal !


Kate -ofcom.org/mobile signal has a website where you can select your mobile operator and postcode and see the nearest area with coverage . If they are two far away then there are aerials that can be tried .


I should have added that ,yes there are boosters you can legally buy in the UK and they work ,by a quirk in UK law it is illegal to use them . The logic of this escapes me at the moment as all you would be doing is connecting your legal mobile phone to a network I will check in more detail just why this is the case .


O2 have/had a product called BoostBox which connects to broadband and allows better mobile reception in poor areas. Whether this is available for private users I do not know. Cost was about £150 I think, but if reception is really poor I think you can negotiate this down. Best to ring O2 and see what current state is..
Privately, when my transmitter is down and their re-route gives poor signal, you can get an Iphone app called TU Go, which uses broadband signal. This obviously depends on the quality of your signal, and if, like mine it hasn’t dropped out!

David P says:
29 November 2015

Too right! I see ads for 6g mobiles and laugh. We struggle to get 3g locally and have to wander round in the garden. Do we live on the moon? No – somewhere between Oxford and Banbury.


We have been with Talktalk for three years and I started with Tiscali. The service they provide is poor and download speeds pathetic. If I have called there service center with technical problems the staff have been very polite and helpful. But they just dont deliver. I am going end the contract and continue to use my IPhone to tether to the net


I live in Cornwall and have so called “superfast” broadband with 22 Mbps. Is this the fastest one can expect? It is certainly better than many other parts of the country.


No Rob , you have FTTC (fibre to the cabinet ) but must live a distance from it ,the next step is FTTP (fibre to the premises ) . This would increase your speed greatly , there is a new type of provision currently being tested by BT and US companies called FTTP-DP this means your copper wire from the pole DP (distribution point ) to your house stays as it is and a gadget is attached outside so no work is needed in your house . Experimental speeds of 800M and more have been obtained so far (depending on distance from pole to house ) . I take it you have optimized your internal wiring so that your master socket is near your computer,s router/modem ? also have you tried a LAN connection rather than wireless ?