In response to today’s Ofcom reports on technical advice in delivering a broadband universal service obligation and its annual Connected Nations report, please find below a response from the Chair of the Internet Services Providers’ Association, James Blessing:

"The research that Ofcom published today clearly highlights the results of ISPA members’ investment and innovation in their networks – average download speeds have increased by 28% to 37 Mbps, 9 out of 10 UK households have access to superfast broadband and ultrafast availability is increasing. 

As an industry, we understand the frustrations of those who still receive slow speeds. Our members have worked hard to reduce the number of premises with speeds of less than 10Mbps from 15% in 2014 to 5% today. However, reaching the final 5% requires significant additional investment, so ISPA supports a USO that sets out basic specifications around download and upload speed, contention and other technical details, whilst keeping the overall cost low.

Ofcom’s research demonstrates that even a basic USO comes with significant costs of up to £1.1 billion that could result in household bills rising by £20. Potential impacts on competition could have further impacts on consumer bills so we will work with Government to ensure that the USO is cost effective and supports the competitive broadband market in the UK. Given the clear socio-economic benefits of broadband and increase in government services delivered online, Government should consider the use of public funding as well as a levy on industry.

We call on Government and Ofcom to look again at ways to increase opportunities for as wide a range of providers as possible to help deliver the USO. There is a large array of ISPs delivering connectivity using fixed, wireless, satellite and hybrid solutions in hard to reach to areas and it would be a shame if their expertise was not utilised in helping deliver universality."