- Group’s new broadband USO kicked in, following up Ofcom’s appointment of the telco as its main USO enabler during 2019.
BT Group’s new broadband Universal Service Obligations (USO) kicked in, following up Ofcom’s appointment of the telco as its main USO enabler during 2019 (BTwatch, #305). From 20 March 2020, BT made it possible for households to find out if they are eligible for “decent and affordable” broadband via an online postcode checker tool. It also promised to contact all households that have the right to an upgrade. The USO — for which BT takes responsibility across the UK, except in regional telco KCOM’s Hull and East Yorkshire domain (BTwatch, #301) — offers a guarantee of 10Mbps/1Mbps connectivity for every eligible household. There are several caveats to this “universal” offering, though. Households are exempt if they have access to a 4G service of comparable speed. Eligibility is also determined using a not-completely-infallible “best‑case estimate”. Openreach is seen as taking responsibility for USO rollout within BT, and the provider has talked up the prospect of using 4G‑based fixed-wireless access in combination with fibre in order to keep delivery costs down (BTwatch, #275). There is a potentially long lead time for receiving a USO‑mandated line, however. Ofcom noted that while most applicants should see the service updates within a year, in some cases it could take two. There is also now potential for these timelines to be under further pressure with engineering services increasingly stressed by the coronavirus epidemic (see separate report).