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matthew hancock official

Digital Minister Matt Hancock has dismissed reports that talks with BT over its plan to deliver universal high-speed broadband across the UK are "close to collapse".

Ministers have promised to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (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, 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.

The government has recently been in talks with BT to develop the plan, which would be legally binding if it is approved.

However, the Telegraph recently reported that discussions are not going well, with the possibility of legal challenges from rival firms proving to be one major stumbling block.

Mr Hancock has therefore responded the rumours by insisting progress is being made on both the BT talks and the planned statutory USO, the Register reports.

"We have taken a twin-track approach," he said.

"I didn't recognise the description in the papers, but part of being a minister is sometimes seeing things that are close to the truth and some that aren't."

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