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“Fast” broadband to become “a right” in UK

Today the United Kingdom witnessed the annual, anachronistic, Ruritanian pantomime otherwise known as the State Opening of Parliament, an event performed by the unelected in fancy dress which marks the formal start of a session of the UK parliament.

The substantial part of the ceremony is the delivery of the Queen’s Speech, written for her by the government and outlining the government’s programme of legislation for the coming year.

The transcript of the speech is available already.

There is one major item of interest to those whose major concern is connectivity; paragraph 4 of the speech states:

Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband.

After that one sentence, the speech then moves on to other matters.

One glaring omission of the entire speech is the lack of any detail. Even for the small section of the speech examined here, there is no definition of what constitutes “high speed broadband“.

Given that the UK definition of so-called “superfast” is a measly 24 Mbps, can it be assumed that “high speed broadband” will be lower than that paltry rate? By way of comparison, the EU Commission’s definition of “superfast” broadband is slightly higher, weighing in at “at least” 30 Mbps.

Update 19/05/16: Further details have now come to light. The BBC reports that the details of the Digital Economy Bill will include the following:

  • A minimum speed of 10Mbps to be guaranteed through the Broadband Universal Service Obligation;
  • Householders in remote areas may have to contribute to the costs of installation;
  • A right to automatic compensation when the service is unavailable;
  • UK companies must get consent before sending promotional emails, with fines for transgressors; and
  • All websites containing pornographic images to require age verification for access.

As regards the final item in the list, we wonder how the UK government is going to enforce this requirement on sites based on servers beyond their jurisdiction, since this seems like wishful thinking by technically ignorant government ministers and equally incompetent civil servants.