BT makes universal broadband offer to Government
Ninety-nine per cent of households could have access to broadband speeds of at least ten megabits per second by 2020 under a BT proposal.
The firm has offered to proactively invest up to £600 million in infrastructure to meet that target then achieve 100 per cent by 2022.
It would recoup the investment through customers’ bills.
If the Government agrees, it could abandon a ‘universal service obligation’ which is designed to help remote households get fast broadband more quickly by granting them the right to request broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it would consult on BT's proposal.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "We warmly welcome BT's offer and now will look at whether this or a regulatory approach works better for homes and businesses.
"Whichever of the two approaches we go with in the end, the driving force behind our decision-making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers."
But Labour's shadow culture secretary Tom Watson sounded a note of caution.
"Families and businesses in areas without the minimum speed may see some hope in this announcement, but they will be rightly wary that they will be forced to pay the price in extra or hidden charges,” he said.
“That would not be acceptable and the government must take that into account.
"Businesses will also be concerned that the 10Mbps minimum broadband speed will be outdated and inadequate before it is even fully delivered.
“Rather than choose an ambitious broadband speed the government went with the cheapest, which will leave us running to catch up with digital developments for years to come."
Regulator Ofcom says there are 1.4m households which cannot get speeds above 10Mbps, but MPs claim there are a further 5.3m who have not chosen to take up faster broadband services and may also not be able to get the benchmark speed.