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BT has put itself forward to become the designated universal service provider (USP) to deliver the government's broadband commitments.

Ministers have pledged to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) that ensures everyone in Britain is able to access minimum speeds of 10Mbps by 2020.

Sean Williams, Chief Strategy Officer at BT, confirmed this week that it will take full responsibility for ensuring this is delivered on time, without the need for any further public funding, Computer Weekly reports.

Speaking to a panel of MPs during a debate on the Digital Economy Bill at Westminster, he said: "We are willing to commit to 100 per cent coverage by 2020.

"Our objective here is to give Ofcom and the government comfort it can be done. For our part, we are willing to take this on to make sure every single premises can get 10Mbps by 2020.”

Mr Williams also insisted that BT is confident that fibre-to-the-cabinet technology, with copper on the last mile, will be available to 95 per cent of the country by the end of the year.

He added that the actual figure could be as high as 98 per cent of premises, with all of them getting broadband speeds of 24Mbps.

However, BT's confidence was not enough to appease rival firms that have been highly critical of the company, particularly over its continued ownership of Openreach.

David Dyson, Chief Executive of Three, argued: "Effective competition and separation of Openreach and BT is the only way you’ll get assurance customers will get the right speeds. 

"Ofcom needs more power to enforce the right decisions and create the right competitive environment.

Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk, added that ongoing advances in technology could render a 10Mbps broadband service inadequate in the future.

This, she said, is because it would still leave people in remote areas struggling with relatively slow broadband speeds and give them reason to feel aggrieved.

Ms Harding said the solution is to "separate Openreach and put the USO on them".

"Once you have infrastructure not owned by a retail provider, it removes industry issues with the public subsidies needed for the final few per cent to get proper fibre,” she stated.

Three and TalkTalk are both part of the Fix Britain's Internet campaign, along with Sky, Vodafone and the Federation of Communication Services, which is pushing for a full structural separation of BT and Openreach.

BT was ordered by Ofcom in July to give Openreach more independence and investment powers, so the broadband subsidiary could be run as a distinct and legally separate company with its own board.

However, the regulator stopped short of calling for a full structural separation, saying its proposals will provide Openreach with the greatest possible degree of independence without separating the companies entirely, and lead to decisions being taken for the good of its customers and the wider telecoms industry.

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