Broadband universal service goes live – advice for customers

20 March 2020

New rules giving you the right to request a decent and affordable broadband connection come into force today (20 March).

The UK’s broadband universal service scheme, introduced by the Government, gives eligible homes and businesses the legal right to request an upgraded connection if they can’t get a download speed of 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1 Mbit/s.

BT is responsible for connecting properties, except in the Hull area where KCOM is the designated provider.

Broadband companies’ resources are currently under significant demand due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19). So before contacting BT or KCOM with your request, we advise you to visit BT or KCOM’s websites – if you can – in the first instance, rather than calling the companies. Here, you will be able to carry out an initial check of whether you could be eligible, and find out more information on how to apply.

You may also find you can already upgrade to a faster connection through an existing fixed or wireless service. Growing availability of wireless broadband services has reduced the amount of properties that can’t get decent broadband significantly in recent years.

We also advise you to make sure your current broadband service is working as effectively as possible. We have a guide containing simple, practical steps you can take yourself to try and improve your broadband speeds at home.

Who is eligible for the universal service?

A home or business is eligible for a universal service connection if it:

  • has no access to decent broadband; and
  • is not due to be connected by a publicly-funded scheme in the next 12 months.

If you can already get a decent service, but the current cost is more than £46.10 per month, you will also have the right to request a universal service connection. This threshold was set at £45 last year, to be updated annually in line with CPI inflation.

How much will it cost?

If the cost of getting your property connected is £3,400 or less, BT or KCOM will pay for this work to be carried out. If the required work costs more, you can choose to pay the additional costs. Alternative solutions may be available, such as satellite broadband, or a connection built through a publicly-funded scheme.

If you are connected through the new universal service, you will pay the same price as anyone else in the UK on the same package.