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DEB Amendment Proposes a 30 Mbps Minimum Speed

Chloe Henderson

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The House of Lords has voted in favour of an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill proposing to increase the Universal Service Obligation from 10Mbps to 30Mbps.

The change would require that broadband service providers such as BT and Sky supply all UK customers with minimum internet download speeds of 30Mbps by 2020.

It reads: “The universal service order must specify as soon as reasonably practicable that, by 2020, the following will be available in every household in the United Kingdom – (a) download speeds of 30 megabits per second;(b) upload speeds of 6 megabits per second;(c) fast response times;(d) committed information rates of 10 megabits per second;(e) an unlimited usage cap.(2BB).”

The amendment was championed by Labour’s Lord Mendelson, who said: “Everyone should be able to access 30Mbps capabilities.”

However, it was met by opposition from internet service providers (ISP) who claim that industry standards should be determined by the industry,

It is likely to come as welcome news to consumers in Scotland who suffer from some of the worst internet speeds in the UK.

According to statistics released by OFCOM, cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow experience average download speeds of 20-50Mbps. By contrast, consumers in the Outer Hebrides are forced to grapple with an average of 5.6Mbps.

Broadband provider BT recently came under fire from residents in South Lanarkshire who complained that issues with speeds were having a huge detrimental impact on businesses in the area.

Avondale and Stonehouse Councillor Graeme Campbell slammed the internet provider for failing to invest in rural areas.

“For us all, the single point of failure – in my opinion – is BT. As someone who has worked in the IT industry for over 30 years, it is my opinion that BT, with their monopoly, have failed to invest, leaving rural constituencies like Avondale struggling for even a basic service.”

A survey conducted with 100 small Scottish businesses in 2015 found that employees wasted an average of 15 minutes every day grappling with poor connectivity.

The amendment to the Digital Economy Bill would make it legally binding for ISP’s to provide a Universal Service Obligation of 30Mpbs to customers in their position.

The Scottish Government has also committed to tackling the digital divide across the country, pledging to deliver “world class connectivity” in Scotland by 2020.

Chloe Henderson

Staff Writer - DIGIT

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