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

20 March 2020

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

The broadband universal service

From 20 March 2020, if you can’t get a download speed of 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1 Mbit/s, you can request an upgraded connection. You can make this request to BT, or to KCOM if you live in the Hull area.

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.

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 and devolved governments in the next 12 months.

If you currently only have access to a decent service that is priced over £46.10 per month, you'll 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 £46.10 a month.

How long does it take to set up?

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

What if I'm not eligible?

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

  • Satellite broadband – You might be able to get a connection via a satellite broadband service. To receive satellite services, you will need to install a satellite dish on your property.
  • You may be experiencing in home connectivity issues which could affect your broadband speeds. 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. Contact your provider to see if they have any advice on what you can do to improve your connectivity in your home.
  • You may be eligible in the future – BT/KCOM will let you know if circumstances change. Future public broadband schemes will contact you if you become eligible to get a connection through these.

Complaints

If BT or KCOM decide you are 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 resolve your issue if the complaint remains unresolved after 8 weeks, or sooner if deadlock has been reached with BT or KCOM.

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 123 333 or 020 7981 3040.

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

Download

Your right to request a decent broadband service (PDF, 826.5 KB)

Eich hawl i ofyn am wasanaeth band eang teilwng (PDF, 325.0 KB)