UK government confirms rural broadband connection to be 'by request'

The UK government has confirmed it will not automatically roll out broadband to areas that don't yet have any services.

Instead, the Universal Service Obligation (USO) will require homes and business to request connection, leading to a possible four-year wait before such areas are legally entitled to request service.

In a consultation document, the government said: "Given the high costs of providing broadband access to premises in remote areas it is right that this is done on request, rather than rolling it out and waiting to see if people in those area want to be connected.

"We know form the various interventions that the government has made to date that it is unlikely that everyone will want to be connected, even if that option is made available to them, and so we do not believe that an additional broadband roll out programme at this time is proportionate or would represent value for money."

The government denies claims the move represented a u-turn, saying it had never claimed there would be further roll outs. "It's absolute nonsense to suggest we're leaving rural areas behind in our roll out of broadband," a DCMS spokesperson told the BBC.

"Our current plans will reach at least 95 per cent of the UK, but we want everyone to have fast broadband so we are introducing a Universal Service Obligation to help make sure no-one is left behind."

According to reports, the government hopes to have the USO in place by the end of this Parliament in 2020, but it is hoping to make it happen "as soon as possible".

Under current plans, the government hopes to have 95 per cent of the UK connected to broadband by December 2017.

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