Your right to request a decent broadband service: What you need to know

Published: 8 August 2023
Last updated: 8 August 2023

Every home and business in the UK has the legal right to request a decent, affordable broadband connection.

The broadband universal service

If you can’t get a download speed of at least 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbit/s (this is defined as a 'decent connection'), you can request an upgraded connection. You can make this request to BT, or to KCOM if you live in the Hull area. You don't need to be an existing customer of BT or KCOM to apply.

Call BT or KCOM to check if you are eligible for an upgrade. If you are eligible, your connection will be built as quickly as possible. If not, you will be told what other options are available.

You might also be able to upgrade to a faster connection through an existing fixed or wireless broadband service. The roll-out of wireless broadband services has reduced the number of properties that can’t get decent broadband.

A 10 MBit/s connection would allow multiple users to use the internet at once, whether for regular online activity or streaming video.

Am I eligible?

When you contact BT or KCOM they will have 30 days to confirm if you are eligible, and how much it will cost to build your connection.

Your home or business will be eligible if it:

  • has no access to existing decent broadband; and
  • will not be covered by a public broadband scheme offered by the UK or devolved governments in the next 12 months.

If you currently only have access to a decent service that is priced over £56.20 per month, you also have the right to request a universal service connection.

What will it cost?

If the cost of building or upgrading your share of the network connection is £3,400 or less, you won't have to pay for this work to be done.

If it will cost more than £3,400 to connect your home, and you still want a connection, you will have to pay the excess costs. If you want to do this, BT/ KCOM will conduct a survey and give you a quote within 60 days.

You will pay the same price for your new broadband service as anyone else on the same package, and no more than £56.20 a month.

How long does it take to set up?

Most people will get a connection within 12 months, but it could take up to 24 months for some.

What if I'm not eligible?

If you’re not eligible, BT or KCOM will tell you what your options are:

  • You might be able to get a connection via a satellite broadband service. To receive one of these, you will need to install a satellite dish on your property.
  • There might be things you can do to improve your broadband speed at home. It can depend on factors like the location of your WiFi router within the home or the number of people in your area going online at busy times. Ask your provider for advice on what you can do to improve your connection at home, and read our tips for staying connected.
  • You might be eligible in the future. BT or KCOM will let you know if circumstances change. Future public broadband schemes will contact you if you become eligible to get a connection through one of these.


If BT or KCOM decide you're not eligible, they should tell you about your right to challenge this decision. They should also tell you how you can complain.

Customers have free access to alternative dispute resolution schemes. They will help to resolve your issue if the complaint remains unresolved after eight weeks, or sooner if deadlock has been reached with BT or KCOM. You do not need to be an existing customer of BT or KCOM to dispute an eligibility decision.

Although Ofcom does not investigate individual complaints your help in highlighting problems plays a vital part in our work.

You can complain to Ofcom on our website, or by calling us on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.

If you wish to speak to us in Welsh, please contact our Welsh language line on 0300 123 2023.

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