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A former Digital Minister has talked up Openreach's credentials for delivering the government's 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Ministers want to give everybody a right to a good-quality broadband connection on reasonable request by 2020.

According to Ed Vaizey, BT's infrastructure subsidiary is ideally placed to offer the quickest and most effective solution and the one that is most likely to be delivered.

Speaking to the Register, Mr Vaizey said the UK will have up to 98 per cent superfast broadband coverage by the end of the decade "because of the widely derided broadband programme", with the remaining areas being serviced by satellite coverage.

"So in effect you are potentially left with 600,000 customers and I think BT can afford to and is willing to make that investment," he commented.

However, Mr Vaizey said a number of regulatory obstacles still exist and urged Ofcom to offer clarity on these matters.

He was speaking shortly after Ofcom revealed that opinion is divided throughout the industry on how the USO should be funded. 

Most public sector stakeholders were found to back the idea of an industry-funded mechanism, while the government also prefers this approach. By contrast, most industry bodies and many consumer and business groups believe that public funding would be more suitable.

Mr Vaizey went on to defend his position on Openreach throughout his tenure as Digital Minister, as he was often criticised for not taking a tough enough position against the organisation.

"I am 100 per cent supportive of my stance and I have become even more so in the past few weeks," he said.

Indeed, he pointed out that in the last week, Google has announced that building infrastructure is more difficult than it thought and will discontinue building a fibre network to US cities because it is not economical.

"So if you take a step back, that is one of the largest companies in the world saying building digital infrastructure requires a large upfront investment," Mr Vaizey observed.

He argued that this justifies BT's approach of building in cities where it will get a return on investment.

"People don't build in rural areas because it is more expensive and you have fewer customers," he commented.

"That was why the government had to step in and subsidise it, and BT was the only one who was prepared to work with us."

Mr Vaizey added that the notion that everyone should have broadband speeds of 100Mbps is "rubbish", as most people using broadband as normal "want the speeds we were delivering: 24Mbps".

Source: The Register

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