/ 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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hugo says:
1 February 2016

If you choose till live in a rural area with all its advantages – you have to take the rough with the smooth. Mobile technology will eventually sort out this problem though.


Been told that fast broadband is coming to our rural area any time now (& saw all the cabling going in over the last months) but when I check, my provider (BT) says it won’t be available for me. This is presumably because I live a mile up a lane from the nearest village – so “rural broadband” doesn’t really mean what it says, does it?


Sadly not for you Sandra if you have miles of copper from the cabinet , I cant even suggest getting together with others as you dont live in a village as some villages have got together and paid for fibre to be installed or have installed radio internet . I wont mention illegal methods . AS far as “waiting for mobile technology ” this still wont work with those too far from the transmitting /receiving pylon .


I’d like a mobile phone signal ! too


The signals all around the Isle of Anglesey are crap, have to travel miles to get a signal in some places.


Mobile phone signals here have always been just a dream, but, ten years ago when the internet connection in this area moved from dial-up to broadband I was getting up to nine megs broadband download speed and an average around seven megs. This has got worse and worse and worse and is currently running around half a meg. Superfast Cymru, the roll out of ‘fast’ fibre-optic in Wales is just being connected in this immediate area and households are now being encouraged to upgrade to a new, superfast fibre-optic broadband service. Sadly the quoted parameters for this new ‘superfast’ fibre-optic broadband service here in North Monmouthshire are two to five megs download speeds. So, after ten years and two major technology upgrades, we may, if we are very lucky, get a service that is almost half as good as the service we were getting in 2006. Progress, don’t you just love it?


John Your comment is interesting , you are saying you were on copper with an original download speed of around 7 megs and it got worse and worse until you are down to half a meg . This is down to an increase in the uptake of broadband users in your area . What happens is that the broadband signals overlap with each other in copper easily ,this produces noise ,the noise in DB ,the same as you get in a hi-fi amplifier , degrades the broadband signal slowing it down so over time your speed reduces . Introducing FTTC means the cabinet is the equivalent of the exchange so we are then talking of the distance you are from the cabinet . It sounds like you are a couple of miles or more from it, even though fibre is a big improvement it is still liable to interaction from other broadband users if the cable is full or nearly so , not to the same extent as copper but never the less there is a drop when congested this will be most noticeable to those who use broadband at peak congestion times where even those with very fast broadband -say 70/80 megs will experience a drop . But at that speed a drop of 10megs doesnt matter , but to those already on a low speed it will. This is basically without going into science the reason in your case .


My speed with BT Broadband varies from 0.35 to 2 megabits per second here in North East Fife. I have written to BT, OFCOM, my Member of the Scottish Parliament, the Fife Broadband Officer and the local newspaper (The Courier) about this – but nothing ever seems to improve. We are not miles out in the Highlands, but about 4 miles from the local exchange in Tayport, but in a rural area. Yet I am paying the same as people in cities receiving very much faster speeds. Action is really needed.


The Government has something of a moral duty to provide full broadband services to rural areas. They obviously consider those living in such areas worthy of paying their share of council tax and income tax, so why have we to settle for second best in other areas?