Skip to main content

The UK is promising ‘superfast’ broadband to everyone in the country by 2020

An Internet speed test.
Tomislav Pinter/Shutterstock
Think Internet access is a universal right? You may want to consider a move to the United Kingdom. On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged “fast broadband” to everyone living in his country, noting that all of his country’s citizens have “the legal right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10Mbps, no matter where they live.” Currently, the U.K.’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) stands at speeds of 2Mbps, which means that Cameron will have to quintuple present offerings over the next five years in order to meet his promise. And while politicians don’t have the best track record for delivering on their pledges, the Prime Minister seems particularly set on this initiative.

“Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right — absolutely fundamental to life in 21st-century Britain,” Cameron said in a statement. “Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity, and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it. That’s right: We’re getting Britain — all of Britain — online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”

Already, the U.K. has a strong online presence, with official estimates stating that over 83 percent of homes and businesses across the nation have broadband connections of 24Mbps, considered “superfast.” This proportion is projected to reach 95 percent within the next two years. But it’s the small percentage of Brits who have yet to experience these connection speeds who the government is now targeting. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said, “We want to upgrade the universal service obligation to provide fast broadband speeds of 10Mbps for the very hardest to reach homes and businesses. Those at the end of the line [are the ones] we are desperate to get to.”

Despite these admirable goals, critics have been quick to point out the flaws in the prime minister’s plans, pointing at both a history of broken promises from both Cameron and the government at large. This is by no means the first time the British legislature has attempted to roll out universal access to the Internet, but they haven’t exactly been successful. And now, there are questions as to where exactly the funding for this “superfast” connectivity is going to come from.

“Five years after abandoning Labour’s fully funded commitment to universal broadband, the government’s “superfast” broadband rollout is still being hit with delays and at the mercy of a single provider,” said Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for culture and the digital economy.

Still, a commitment at least implies a recognition of need, and at the very least, that is a step in the right direction.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
Skype now supports 911 calls in the U.S.
iPhone with the Skype mobile app loading screen.

Skype has updated its mobile and desktop apps to allow emergency calling in the U.S. for the first time in its 18-year history. Calls to 911 are also possible via Skype’s web-based service, notes for the recently released Skype 8.80 showed.

Emergency calling from Skype could come in handy if you find yourself in a tricky situation without a phone but have a computer close by, or if phone lines are down but you can get online.

Read more
The Interplanetary File System: How you’ll store files in the future
Cloud storage for downloading an isometric. A digital service or application with data transmission. Network computing technologies. Futuristic Server. Digital space. Data storage. Vector illustration.

When you upload a file or send a tweet, your information is stashed in some corporation-owned mega data center in the middle of nowhere. The endless racks of computers in these facilities hold millions of ledgers, and with a flick of a switch, companies can censor or misuse the data.

But what if instead of handing it to, say Amazon or Google, your data is broken down into pieces and scattered across the globe so that no one except you and your key -- not even the government -- can access it?

Read more
The best hurricane trackers for Android and iOS in 2022
Truck caught in gale force winds.

Hurricane season strikes fear into the hearts of those who live in its direct path, as well as distanced loved ones who worry for their safety. If you've ever sat up all night in a state of panic for a family member caught home alone in the middle of a destructive storm, dependent only on intermittent live TV reports for updates, a hurricane tracker app is a must-have tool. There are plenty of hurricane trackers that can help you prepare for these perilous events, monitor their progress while underway, and assist in recovery. We've gathered the best apps for following storms, predicting storm paths, and delivering on-the-ground advice for shelter and emergency services. Most are free to download and are ad-supported. Premium versions remove ads and add additional features.

You may lose power during a storm, so consider purchasing a portable power source,  just in case. We have a few handy suggestions for some of the best portable generators and power stations available. 

Read more