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The government's plans to implement a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) have been criticised by Luminet.

Ministers want to introduce a USO that ensures everyone in Britain has a legal right to request minimum speeds of 10Mbps by 2020.

According to the government, this is the speed that will meet the typical needs of a family that wants to browse the web, stream films and carry out video conferencing at the same time.

However, Luminet Chief Executive Sasha Williamson believes a 10Mbps USO is "laughable in this digital age".

Speaking to, he said the focus should instead be placed upon gigabit-capable broadband technologies, with a strategy aligned to a nationwide rollout.

BT has volunteered to deliver universal high-speed broadband to all areas of the UK, as an alternative to regulation.

Under BT's offer, which would be primarily delivered by Openreach, many premises would receive speeds substantially faster than 10Mbps. As a result, the proposal could render the planned USO unnecessary.

However, Mr Williamson said "we need to look beyond a lobbying giant that wants to sweat its copper assets".

"De-regulation is needed, as we have seen in the past, a 'voluntary' commitment works for the shareholders, but not the national interest for a competitive market," he commented.

"However, access to capital is also a barrier to stimulate altnet competition."

Mr Williamson went on to state that while the government has pledged to help alternative network providers expand their full fibre broadband networks, supporting and enabling the technology will require billions of pounds.

The government has set up a £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to improve access to commercial finance, while £200 million is being invested in locally-led projects across the country.

"The existing fund is just a drop in the ocean, but I suppose it’s a small step in the right direction," Mr Williamson added.

"What altnets really need is the right environment and better last mile access technologies to compete."


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